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Okja Review

7 Jul

This film has no business working as well as it does. It’s quite the mess on first appearance, lacking the kinetic, hard-hitting forward movement of Snowpiercer and veering between vastly different tones and frameworks. It’s a corporate satire that hits the meatpacking industry and its attendant political and definitional manipulations, a wacky action-adventure film that features bizarre characters doing bizarre things, and a heartwarming yet heartbreaking story about the bond shared between a young girl and her animal friend. Bong Joon-ho and d.p. Darius Khondji (responsible for one of the greatest shots in recent memory in The Immigrant) demonstrate a wonderful ability to transition between the lush nature shots of the first half to the clinical horrors of the second, and the tonal shift that accompanies it works surprisingly well.

Joon-ho has assembled an excellent cast here, and though some of the characters are underwritten, the actors make the most of what they are given. Case in point: Dano, Esposito, and Swinton, all of whom find hidden depths to their characters and embody interesting contradictions and parallels throughout. As for Gyllenhaal, he essentially spends the entire film high out of his mind and speaking as if someone sewed a bag of helium into his body and then punched him in the stomach until irreparable damage was done to his airways…but he’s entertaining to watch in a way? It’s a ridiculous character and I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a good performance, but I’m kind of glad it exists. What grounds ridiculousness like this, though, is Ahn Seo-hyun in the central role as Mija, a character who represents the undying love one can have for another creature, regardless of the circumstances. The film intends to get certain messages across about big business, the environment, and political activism, but the fundamental idea here revolves around what has been forgotten amidst it all: genuine love and connection. If and when we’re forced to wade into the warped, corruption-drenched horrors that populate the world, we must not lose sight of what really matters.

GRADE: B+

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2 Responses to “Okja Review”

  1. Jay July 8, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    I thought it was really interesting how it goes back and forth between this corporate setting, and then the innocent, idyllic relationship between a girl and her beloved pet.

    • polarbears16 July 8, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

      Yeah, that was fascinating. Well done in terms of the visuals and the mood/tone developing from each setting.

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