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Cannes 2017: OKJA is an Entertaining Mess [Quick Takes]

By Manuel de Layet [05.19.17]


Editor's Note: "Quick Takes," as the name suggest, are initial impressions on movies from our man-on-the-ground at Cannes.

Setting aside the facts that the screen itself malfunctioned and that the non-press side of the Grand Theatre Lumiere was full of morons from the old guard of film distribution that were only there to boo and yell about Netflix not being "cinema" until they were politely but firmly escorted out, Okja in itself is low-grade propaganda on animal rights.


It is entertaining, that's the point after all, but the political agenda behind it bores me more that a real-time paint-drying contest in lower Ukraine on a Tuesday night.


All the ropes are there, the kind you could moor Leviathan itself with.


The opening story arc on the bonding of the young girl with the pig is long enough that we should side with the pig once the "opposition" part of the story comes into play. The usual 3 act, exploration/setting, opposition, resolution. In nerd speak: door, monster, loot. You cannot go more basic when it comes to storytelling.



Sadly the pig doesn't work, putting a dog face on a hippopotamus doesn't make it the new Falcor. And when the bloody lightning on it isn't on par with the rest of the scene everything deflates like a failed souffle.


The kid is amusing, there is satire aplenty on both sides, even with the obvious pro-animal stance. There's fun being made of everyone including the eco-warriors. Jake Gyllenhaal is entertaining as a plucky comic relief, Paul Dano is incredible and Tilda Swinton is being Tildesque which might or might not be a good depending on your stance with it. I kind of tire of seeing actors being reused in the same ways over and over.


Anyway, this was more or less alright and funny until the end.


Kid goes half way around the world to save the animal sidekick from being turned into sausage and various cuts, each with their own texture and taste is, well, a cute tale of love and co-dependency or whatever but giving the final evil capitalist corporate- slaughterhouse the exterior appearance of Auschwitz is not something I can condone. I know it is intended to show the animal suffering by tapping into one of the greatest crimes against our own species, I know that a survivor of the holocaust sold to the vegan cause said "for animals it's Treblinka every day" but the association of the two in my mind went to "the jews are pigs" and... goddammit NO!



Recommended Release: The Host



  • carpe occasio (4 days ago)

    Maybe Jews as pigs was intentional to show the horror of Nazi thinking.
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