Bong Joon-ho, the South Korean auteur who previously directed the ambitious cult-hit Snowpiercer, returns with another all-star fantasia with Okja, a fantastical new film following the friendship between a young girl and a mutated beast. The film, which is making its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival before it becomes available for streaming on Netflix, holds a distinctive ensemble cast that Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano. Yet, as we reported earlier, Okja‘s first press screening at Cannes didn’t quite turn out so well.
The film was delayed several minutes due to a masking error. The technical glitch came after many in the international film community flinched at Netflix’s acceptance at Cannes. (Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, also from the streaming giant, are both in competition at the festival, Netflix’s first appearances on the Cannes slate.) Reportedly, there were audible boos as the logo for the company appeared before Okja screened and was promptly delayed. On the matter of the glitch, Cannes came out with a comment to apology:
A technical incident disrupted the beginning of the screening of Bong Joon ho’s film, Okja, which was shown this morning at a press screening at the Lumière Auditorium. The session was interrupted for a few minutes but was then able to carry on as normal.
This incident was entirely the responsibility of the Festival’s technical service, which offers its apologies to the director, his teams, the producers and the audience at the showing.
The fracas and the argument behind why or why Netflix should have been invited Cannes comes as early reviews for the film have offered quite a bit of praise for the film. For instance, Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair wrote, “Okja is a buoyant, messy delight of a film, clever and rousing and full-hearted. I laughed; I cried; I chose to forego meat at lunch.” The Playlist‘s Jessica Kiang opined, “This is a gorgeously realized popcorn movie of the most satisfying, comforting, restorative kind: full as its heart is, it has a lot on its mind, yet you’d also quite like to curl up on its belly and doze in the sun.” For while Sam C. Marc review in Slant Magazine – “Okja suggests that the sarcastic humor of Bong Joon-ho’s best films doesn’t translate well” – offered a counterpoint, early reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. Of which may – or should – quell some of the anti-Netflix sentiment on the ground.
Some more early reactions below:
Only Bong Joon Ho could make the story of a mutant pig and the girl who loved her both endearing & political. #Cannes2017
— erickohn (@erickohn) May 19, 2017
OKJA contains the best and worst of Bong. Loved the 1st half, but his ability to balance wildly divergent tones eventually fails him here.
— Bilge Ebiri (@BilgeEbiri) May 19, 2017
Okja will premiere on Netflix on June 28th.