A plucky youngster striving to save a beloved creature is a familiar enough story, yet this bizarre tale of a 13-year-old girl, Mija (An Seo Hyun) and a giant superpig is quite unique.
Loveable, loyal and highly intelligent, Okja the pig – an astonishing CGI creation – is as big as a hippo and has been reared for 10 years in the idyllic mountains of South Korea by orphaned Mija and her grandfather (Byun Heebong).
But Okja is part of a global contest to combat world hunger devised by a colossal multinational corporation headed by Tilda Swinton’s purportedly idealistic CEO. Now, the company wants to return Okja to New York for the climax of the competition.
Mija’s efforts to be reunited with Okja, which involve her with a rag-tag band of animal-rights activists led by Paul Dano’s apologetic eco-terrorist, go from episodes of slapstick adventure – including some rambunctious havoc in a Korean shopping mall – to far darker sequences in New York.
The film’s shifts in mood, from cute antics to bleak drama, via farcical comedy and anti-capitalist satire, will disconcert viewers looking for family-friendly fun and Jake Gyllenhaal’s OTT performance as a squeaky voiced TV celebrity vet, the corporation’s public face, is annoying.
However, you’ll be rooting for Mija and Okja, while the film provides enough food for thought to make you think twice about that next bacon sandwich.