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Tilda’s meaty film is funny but leaves a weird aftertaste

REVIEW

Okja

Cannes Film Festival ★★★✩✩

TILDA SWINTON loomed large over Cannes on Friday — as did a giant ‘super pig’ going by the name of Okja. The controversial Netflix film from Korean director Bong Joon-hoo stars Swinton as a ruthless American CEO whose company breeds creatures that look like a cross between a hippo and an elephant. The ‘super pigs’ are reared by farmers around the world before coming back to feed the Yanks.

When we meet Okja, she’s living in South Korea and bonding with a farmer’s teenage daughter Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), both blissfully unaware of Okja’s fate on a plate. The pig is intelligent, loyal and capable of defecating on demand, so there’s a lot to love.

When Okja is taken to the US, Mija and a band of eccentric youths from the Animal Liberation Front pursue her. It’s a weird, fitfully funny satire that’s most effective when focusing on Mija and Okja. There’s a sweet bond between them, impressive given that the latter is CGI and looks terrific, adding weight to the argument that Netflix films do belong in Cannes (although the Netflix logo is still being met by boos and cheers).

Paul Dano and Lily Collins are great as ALF members, but scenes at the Mirando Corp strike an odd note, striving for farce but coming off clumsy, even with excellent actors such as Swinton, Shirley Henderson and Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s OTT as a kooky TV presenter. Then there are the dark scenes exploring the meat industry and genetic modification.

It’s an odd mix, but like the festival, never dull.

Netflix: In or out? Site splits film buffs

SHOULD a film that’s mainly showing on a streaming service be in Cannes? Many festivalgoers think it should be all about the silver screen. The debate’s become so hot the festival has changed its rules. From next year, all entries will have to be released in French cinemas. Defending Netflix, Okja star Tilda Swinton said: ‘I really think that there is room for everyone.’ The company’s other Cannes film, The Meyerowitz Stories, has won rave reviews for stars Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler.