Bong Joon-ho’s Netflix film Okja premieres at Cannes
I always find it simultaneously weird and exciting when Korean acting and directing talent work with American ones, because it really does feel like my two worlds are colliding, when they used to be wholly separate. Director Bong Joon-ho has helmed the most well-known of such joint Korean-American productions, with 2013’s Snowpiercer and now Netflix’s Okja, which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
When I first read the plot description of the new action-adventure film featuring a large pig as a main character, I was reminded of other stories featuring children seeking to rescue and protect their non-human companions, like E.T. or Pete’s Dragon. But, as can be expected of Bong Joon-ho, elements that might seem similar have been injected with a dose of the bizarre.
Thirteen-year-old actress Ahn Seo-hyun (Village: Secret of Achiara) leads an all-star ensemble cast as a young girl from Gangwon-do who has grown up with and cared for a super-pig, the titular Okja. Unbeknownst to her, Okja is part of a project conducted by global corporation Mirando, which takes the super-pig away to New York. Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange) plays another villain for Bong Joon-ho as the CEO of Mirando, and will be joined in the antagonist camp by Jake Gyllenhaal (Life), portraying a zoologist working for the corporation and the mastermind behind the super-pig project.
Ahn Seo-hyun will be aided in her rescue efforts by a guerrilla animal rights organization called ALF. They seem like PETA on crack, and use violence to forward their agenda. Paul Dano (Youth) leads ALF, and its members include Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Lily Collins (To the Bone). Although ALF first extends its hand to Ahn Seo-hyun, it does look like they have their own agenda regarding Okja, so we’ll have to just wait and see whether they remain in her camp, or if they turn into one more enemy for Ahn Seo-hyun’s character. The supporting cast also includes Korean actors Byun Hee-bong (Madame Antoine) and Choi Woo-shik (Train to Busan).
There’s been some controversy over the place of Netflix movies competing at the Cannes Film Festival, and technical difficulties at the premiere of Okja forced the film to restart. But the film reportedly received a standing ovation at its premiere, and the reviews cropping up on English-language sites are widely positive, so I’m excited to see it once it becomes available on Netflix on June 28.
Via Naver Movies