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dir Bong Joon Ho
scr Bong Joon Ho, Jon Ronson
prd Ted Sarandos, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Lewis Taewan Kim, Dooho Choi, Woo Sik Seo, Bong Joon Ho
with Tilda Swinton, An Seo Hyun, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, Byun Heebong, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Yoon Je Moon, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Devon Bostick
release US/UK/Kor 29.Jun.17
17/Korea Netflix 1h59
A pig and her girl: Ojka and An
CANNES FILM FEST
EDINBURGH FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Warm and witty, this offbeat creature feature has both a strong emotional kick and a pointed message about the true impact of globalisation. Produced to a very high standard, it's another constantly surprising, fast-paced romp from Korean maestro Bong Joon Ho. And as the story moves from Seoul to New York, it's both a riveting adventure and a fiendishly clever social satire.
Determined to correct the sins of her father and evil twin sister, Lucy (Swinton) is running the Mirando corporation with more humane core values, addressing the global food crisis by breeding 100 superpigs, raised by farmers around the world. Ten years later, celebrity judge Johnny (Gyllenhaal) declares the winning pig is hippo-sized Okja, raised in Korea by the teenaged Mija (An), who's furious that this company is taking her best friend away. So she sets out on an epic quest to find her. Meanwhile, animal rights activists (led by Dano) are plotting their own rescue.
From the start, Bong establishes the close connection between Mija and Okja, as they play together in the mountains, taking care of each other. Okja is rendered so realistically that she becomes a proper character: intelligent, playful and brave. The bond between them is at the centre of the entire film, through both quiet dramatic moments and some superbly orchestrated action. An extended chase through Seoul is particularly thrilling, packed with amusing touches.
Performances are a little cartoonish from Swinton and Gyllenhaal, but they bring intriguing layers to exaggerated versions of privileged, heartless corporate scions and an overpraised TV presenter, respectively. By comparison, An nicely underplays the extremely determined Mija, while Dano brings a soulful quality to a right-thinking man who remains stedfast when confronted with real-life horrors. Indeed, as the story progresses and the themes take hold, the comical tone shifts into something often genuinely distressing.
Bong has a great time re-creating the circus of multi-national business, as dimwitted executives manipulate both their bosses and the public ("If it's cheap they'll eat it!"). And he takes a complex approach to the liberal activists as well. As a result, the characters come to life in ways that makes the film gripping, involving and even moving, with some properly heart-wrenching moments along the way. It may feel a little simplistic in the end, but it's an inventive, pointed adventure with a memorably emotional kick.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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