Snowpiercer is one of my favorite films of 2013, so I have been eagerly awaiting the next film from director Bong Joon-ho. Releasing exclusively on Netflix, Okja is about the love between a girl and her pet super pig. It’s also about the food industry and the lengths we go to in order to have a limitless supply of meat available at all times. It will make you laugh, cry, and question your eating habits, all while telling an entertaining story that is unlike anything you’ll see in the theaters. It’s Bong Joon-ho doing what he does best.


Led by CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), the Mirando Corporation has developed the perfect animal for meat consumption, the super pig. It’s an animal that requires less food to feed while still growing to massive proportions all the while leaving a much smaller ecological footprint on the environment. To raise publicity about their super pig, the corporation is giving 10 piglets to 10 farmers across the globe, who will raise the animals according to their own style and tradition for the next 10 years. Then the Mirando Corporation will select the best pig from the bunch and unveil it to the world in a massive PR stunt. Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun)has been helping her grandfather take care of South Korea’s super pig, which she has named Okja and has grown to love over the past decade. After being selected as the best super pig, Okja is taken back by the Mirando Corporation. Mija isn’t letting her go without a fight, though, and sets out to free Okja with the help of an animal liberation group before it’s too late.


Okja is a fascinating film that hooks you in with the friendship between Mija and Okja and then delivers an emotional one-two punch as she is taken away for “processing.” Okja is more than just another domesticated animal designed for human consumption. Early on we see Okja actually save Mija. It’s not just some “push her out of the way” kinda save either but an ingenious plan that I probably wouldn’t have thought of in the heat of the moment. She’s an intelligent and caring creature, so it’s even more heartbreaking when she’s taken away knowing full well what her ultimate fate is going to be.


Early on the film is quite humorous and heartwarming. All of the people under the Mirado Corporation umbrella feel like villainous caricatures.Tilda Swinton is fantastic as always. She’s the happy-go-lucky face of the corporation, but you can see something sinister lurking just below the surface. Even more outrageous is Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal), a TV personality and zoologist who is responsible for the well-being of Okja. Gyllenhaal fully embraces the absurdity of his character with the most over-the-top accent and wacky mannerisms. He’s absolutely hilarious, and it honestly might be my favorite performance of his. Rounding out the film’s excellent cast is Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, and Lily Collins, all of whom deliver great and memorable performances.


Underneath all the humor is a scathing critique of the food industry. Okja can be pretty bleak at times, especially towards the end. Should we be harvesting these highly intelligent creatures when there are plenty of better and more environmentally conscious choices available? Should we be harvesting animals at all, regardless of their intelligence? At the very least the film makes you ponder over these questions and more. It’s not as in your face as you might imagine. I won’t be turning into a vegetarian any time soon, though I will be taking a second look at where my meat is coming from next time I’m at the supermarket.


Okja is absurdly amazing and an absolute must-watch on Netflix. Like Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-ho delivers another riveting story about society, this time targeting the food industry instead of social classes. There’s no other film quite like it.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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