Okja, by Korean director Bong Joon Ho, is a fantastic comedy about the friendship between a little girl and a genetically modified animal evoking both pig and hippo.
The relationship between Mija, a young Korean peasant, and Okja, a genetically modified, gentle and intelligent creature – both pig and hippopotamus for the flesh mass and a doggy for the affection – is a true story of love. Free and happy in the paradisiacal nature of the wooded mountains of South Korea, the two friends live and sleep together, sharing food and games. One day, the veterinarian in charge of the project takes Okja away to New York. Mija refuses to accept the separation and will go from Seoul to New York to bring her friend back.
Worshipers of the Golden Pig
The Golden Pig has become the symbol of a modern and technological capitalist society, hiding its greed for profit under the politically correct mask of ecological solutions. Promising to unite Nature and Science, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), the flamboyant and peroxydée CEO of the multinational agribusiness Mirando, evokes the birth of a miracle that will offer its customers a succulent meat and the environment, a reduction of excrement!
From a sow discovered in Chile, 26 piglets have been “made” and assigned to breeders from all over the world, for the piggies to be bred according to the traditional methods from each terroir. After ten years, a contest will decide of the most beautiful super-pig in the universe, with an awards ceremony in New York.
Spy in the laboratory
Mija (Seo Hyun An) offers some fruits to her gigantic sow, who helps her to fish and saves her life with her ingenious sacrifice while the little girl is in danger of falling into a precipice. But for the company Mirando, Okja is a meat-making machine, and Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal), excited by the results of the Korean breeding, recovers her to crown her “best super-pig” and continue his work in his laboratory.
Betrayed by her grandfather who offers her a golden pig to make her accept Okja’s departure (and advises her to find a boyfriend), Mija sees her innocence shattered.
Mija then starts a hectic full-throttle chase with spectacular special effects and stunts in search of her friend, helped by animal rights defenders who recover Okja by organizing a rocambolesque “pignapping”.
But the goal of the animal activists, led by Jay (Paul Dano), is to use Okja as a spy in the fortress of the Mirando laboratory to reveal the company’s diabolical works. For this purpose, she must be recaptured and taken to New York where Mija will join her, as Lucy wants to use the girl for an emotional reunion between the two friends. Which do not go as planned…
Innocence and universal philosophy
Bong Joon Ho (Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer) delivers a touching work, which, as a carrier of innocence and a universal philosophy, honors the Festival de Cannes and has its right place in competition. The narrative, of great authenticity in spite of its fantastic and science fiction side, is as much an amusement with many humorous findings that a frightful vision of our contemporary society.
La Croisette took on the appearance of a playground during the press screening. First film of the Official Selection financed by the SVOD platform Netflix, Okja was eagerly awaited. Like the controversy about the non-broadcasting in theaters of the film that is dividing the world of French cinema, the police of the thought of the French cultural exception booed the Netflix banner on the screen of the Grand Auditorium Lumière, while others, on the contrary, applauded. (Amazon was also booed the day before at the screening of Wonderstruck…)
Oil on the fire, a badly adjusted curtain masking part of the screen caused the film to stop after a few minutes, the time for the technicians to fix the problem: “an incident only due to the technical services of the Festival” according to a statement from the management of the Cannes Film Festival.
Now, we expect the American The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach, another film of the competition acquired by Netflix…
The Okja Red Carpet in images
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