The last thing I expected to glean from the first trailer for Bong Joon-ho’s Okja was a feeling of familiarity. The director has eschewed tradition time and time over, offering up instead some of the most winningly strange pictures in contemporary filmmaking; our earlier looks at Okja suggested that this next outing would carry that torch. And indeed, it packs plenty of weird. But surprisingly enough, Okja does also read as a pretty familiar, traditional story. As the first trailer spells out pretty clearly, the movie will follow a young girl’s quest to rescue her beloved pet after he’s been kidnapped. Surely we’ve seen this premise carried time and time again. The difference: this time, the pet in question is a gigantic pig monster.
In fairness, that’s hardly the only thing that promises to separate Okja from its ilk. The kidnapper in question is Tilda Swinton, armed with an even greater helping of showboaty menace than she shouldered in her last collaboration with Bong Joon-ho, Snowpiercer.
The megalomaniacal culture over which she reigns will be the main hurdle between farm girl Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) and her precious Okja. Filling out the cast are the likes of Paul Dano and Steven Yeun as a pair of animal rights activists, a gun-toting Lily Collins, a sinister-looking Giancarlo Esposito (what else is new?), and a damn near unrecognizable Jake Gyllenhaal.
In short, there does indeed look to be plenty of that typically weird Bong Joon-ho imagination through which this decidedly traditional plot may be filtered. We’ll see how these two elements complement one another when the film hits Netflix on June 28.
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