Review: Okja

I had high hopes for this film. I read about it a couple of month’s ago as THE film to make veganism and animal activism more mainstream and accessible. I even put the release date in the joint calendar my boyfriend and I have, so he knew it was something we were going to have to watch.

Warning: spoilers!

Firstly, the premise is good – the story is that a Monsanto-esque company announces a 10 year competition where 26 GM pigs are raised by different farmers across the world to see which techniques produce the biggest and best pig. At first, we don’t know that they are GM, just that a new species of pig was found in South America – a nod, I thought, to the rumoured mistruths of Monsanto and GM food’s safety.

Secondly, the actress who played Mija, the main character, was pretty good. Her bond with the CGI pig was believable.

However, the other characters were caricatures, completely over the top and overacted (Jake Gyllenhaal, I’m looking at you). I thought that this farcical side of the film overwhelmed and distracted from the whole point of the story, which is the cruelty of industrial farming. It made it impossible to believe that places were, or could, actually be like that, because it turned it into a land of make-believe.

The only thing that might be said in defence of this, is that I read that Korean films tend to not be subtle in their character portrayal, so the acting may have been intended to stay true to that style, but, for me and my boyfriend, it left us feeling unimpressed.

I admit I welled up when the big pigs pushed their baby pig under the fence, even though I hadn’t felt a connection to any of the characters. The ending was abrupt and incomplete. Mija saved Okja and the baby pig, but what about the rest of them. What about trying to shut down the big bad corporation? What about telling the world the truth? What about the ALF; would they really stop at just one pig and walk away from the slaughterhouse? There was no closure to the film.

Please let me know if you thought otherwise.

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