Jon Espino reviews “Okja” for The Young Folks


Even as adults, I still believe we need fairy tales. There’s that transitionary period in life where we essentially go from a Disney-esque outlook on life to a Grimms’ fairy tale style one. It’s necessary, especially since our adult lives are full of complex situations that the film’s I saw as a child did not prepare me for. Luckily, Joon-Ho Bong delivers a modern fairy tale in Okja that deals with serious issues while remaining sweet, no matter how many sour notes it hits along the way.

Bong has long had a fascination with creating creature films. The Host and Okja share that and so much more in common. While Bong introduces these creatures, he makes sure to use them as mirrors to be held up towards society. He turns them into devices meant to reflect the monstrous nature of humanity while also introducing a beacon of light and hope. The film’s human monsters wear many faces, like a charismatic television show host or a group of activists whose ideas seem heroic but their execution is manipulative. Bong blends the grotesque with the whimsical, delivering laughs, scares and endearing moments, sometimes all in the same scene. The tone varies depending on the moment but Bong has proven that he is a master at making it work as a cohesive piece in a film.


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