Pulling Focus: Okja (2017)

By Shane Scott-Travis

“We always have two perspectives when we look at animals. There is one perspective where we look at it in a friendly way or we treat it as family, and there’s one perspective where we treat it as food.”

– Bong Joon-ho

The call to mercy

An affecting, earnest, and exciting tale of interspecies friendship and atrocious truths, Okja judiciously swings from caustic action-adventure to full-on horror film with intelligence, aplomb, and a shit ton of risk-taking.

Deftly directed by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (who also co-wrote the movie, alongside Jon Ronson), Okja continues his often audacious mixing of tonalities in a tale that begins as a satire before surfacing as a romping comedy bubbling over with charm and considerable magnetism as we follow a young girl named Mija (ahn Seo-hyun) and her enormous companion animal, the eponymous Okja.

And then Bong pulls the audience along with the looming apprehension that something unspeakable awaits Okja, a beast destined for the catastrophe of the factory farm, the killing floor, to be crushed in the cruel, profit-driven ragwheel of capitalism.

As with Bong’s previous work, most notably Memories of Murder (2003)––which contains explicit slapstick interspersed with grim melodrama––and Snowpiercer (2013)––which integrates bleak futuristic sci-fi spectacle with diverting conceptual folly––resulting in a touching treatise on animal welfare and the bonds of friendship.

“Okja is mind-blowing. Bong does fascinating work. I think he’s gone back a little bit. Taking Snowpiercer and a movie like Mother and The Host and bringing them all together in one movie. I think he’s taken that independent spirit, put it in this massive idea. It’s gorgeous and insane and moving. It’s really this children-adults movie, almost like in the vein of Pan’s Labyrinth, but Bong’s.”

– Jake Gyllenhaal

Meat is murder

A film like Okja, with a cast of A-listers (Paul → continue…

From:: Taste Of Cinema

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