2017 Movie Reviews: Okja

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Netflix is slowly but surely turning into one of the biggest brands in the world. A long time ago, they were just a cheap way of watching movies and TV shows. Then, they started producing their own content. With shows like The Crown, 13 Reasons Why and especially Stranger Things, Netflix has shown that they can run with the big dogs in the television industry.

In terms of their movies, they’ve hit a few more stumbling blocks. Beasts Of No Nation was a great film and a decent awards player, but the film’s subject matter meant that it was never going to be a mainstream hit.

And that’s where Okja hopes to change things,

This film kind of reminds me of Swiss Army Man in a funny way. It’s a weird setup to get into at first, but once you get used to it, the movie is surprisingly emotional, funny and poignant. Though I don’t want to give it away, I really enjoyed the film’s ending and I think it has a very strong moral.

The effects, while clearly limited by Netflix’s budget, do their job well enough, and really make you believe that the super-pig ‘Okja’ exists. The entire thing is made possible by director Bong Joon-ho, who made 2014’s Snowpiercer. While I liked that film, I think he improves with Okja, with a bold, unique vision that really stands apart from the crowd.

But for my money, one of the main reasons why the film works as well as it does is because of the lead actress, Ahn Seo-Hyun. The entire film centers around her relationship with a CGI animal that wasn’t really there when they shot it. And yet, you can see in her eyes the deep love she has for this animal and how much this journey is affecting her. She had to do all of this without speaking a word of English, and oh yeah… did I mention she was only twelve during the shoot?

I seriously hope she gets accolades for her performance, because she deserves it. I also hope that this inspires Hollywood to cast more women of color in lead roles.

The film also stars Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, and Jake Gyllenhaal, three actors who give consistently great work in every movie they do. The film works because of these phenomenal actors, as well as a great script and amazing direction. I genuinely don’t know whether or not this film is going to make a play for any awards, but it definitely deserves it.

**** out of ****

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