Review: Okja (2017)

I’ve loved the work of South Korean genre-manipulator Bong Joon-ho since university. Criminally, we never got his last film SNOWPIERCER in the UK (at least not officially), so the fact that his latest, OKJA, has gone straight to Netflix is a real boon, a leap forward in film democratisation, whatever Cannes Film Festival says. Bong hasn’t lost his distinctive black sense of humour. Asking your granddaughter “Which of your parents do you miss the most?” by their graveside. Cops and animal activists slipping all over polished floors as they attempt ineffectual battle with each other. An activist taking his beliefs to the extreme and swearing off all foods. It ain’t subtle. Okja doesn’t have subtext so much as text. The meat industry is bad, the people and produce of other countries is exploited by the USA, maybe if we go know animals we wouldn’t want to eat them. And then there’s whatever Jake Gyllenhaal was doing. Bong doesn’t present us with a solution, but seems to present the problems at hand with a bit of a helpless shrug. It’s pretty entertaining, with good work from Paul Dano and young Ahn Seo-Hyun, but you won’t be as compelled when the story leaves South Korea for the film’s messier second half, no matter how cute the pig-hippo-dog of the title is. SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

I'm not paid to write about film - I do it because I love it. Favourites include Sam Mendes, Guillermo del Toro, Bong Joon-ho, Steven Spielberg, Danny Boyle, Edgar Wright, Taika Waititi and the Coen Brothers. All reviews and articles are original works owned by me. They represent one man's opinion, and I'm more than happy to engage in civilised debate if you disagree.
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