Pigs make for effective publicity stunts. While filmmakers, artists and activists have purposely exploited the porcine for its political worth, some politicians have found themselves at the centre of a media storm after a stunt of their own gets unexpectedly outed.
With that in mind, Bong Joon-ho’s new creature-feature live-action buddy movie Okja explores how animals are exploited for capitalist profit. Tilda Swinton bursts onto the screen as Lucy Mirando, the CEO of a multinational corporation whose new breed of super-pigs are intended to help solve the global food shortage, reduce waste and, most of all, “taste fucking great”.
Boasting big stars and their even bigger slapstick performances you can’t help but feel Bong has had to pander to the limited attention spans of the Netflix crowd. Jake Gyllenhaal (or is that Jim Carrey?) plays a washed-up former TV presenter drunkenly floundering around while Paul Dano is an unexpected delight as Jay, the leader of a group of animal-rights activists.
Billed as a take-down of the smiling double standards of corporate capitalism, Okja successfully delivers on a conceptual level by means of its entertainment factor – such as in the live-action sequences in which 13-year-old Mija (An Seo-hyun) tumbles around the Korean mountains with her big friendly pig giant before coming home to her grandfather. It all just looks really good.
The Netflix production will land on screens this week with a small theatrical release. Tailored to families just as much as it is to eco-conscious vegetarians, it is sure to cause a sensation this summer.
A blockbuster for the small screen, Okja is ripe for laughs. Alongside the recent release of Simon Amstell’s just-as-jokey vegan mockumentary Carnage, it’s got us hoping and praying for plenty more eco-friendly globally-conscious yet accessible films.
CAST: Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, Paul Dano
DIRECTOR: Bong Joon-ho
WRITERS: Bong Joon-ho, Jon Ronson
SYNOPSIS: Mija is a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a huge pig called Okja.