Written and Directed by Kieron Hawkes.
Starring Paul Anderson, Martin Compston, Josh Herdman, Neil Maskell and Louise Dylan.
Joe (Compston) struggles with the fear he feels living in modern day London. After his brother is murdered by a bunch of thugs, he comes across a mysterious stranger named Piggy (Anderson) who persuades him to get revenge.
Piggy had me guessing from the very beginning. So don’t worry. What I’m about to say isn’t a HUGE spoiler, because I’m talking about something anyone who’s seen a movie before will come across in the first thirty seconds. So… is Piggy part of Joe’s imagination or what? From the voiceover dialogue to the fades from Joe to Piggy, I thought I had it figured out. But I didn’t. So while Piggy has an element most people have seen before (like Tyler Durden, Piggy also wears sleeveless tops and kicks people in the face), this is a talking point for anyone who sees this film.
The issue itself isn’t frustrating. It’s the way I was constantly questioning this issue from beginning to end that was tiresome. The question of whether Joe created Piggy would have been a good one if the rest of the movie’s themes were played out to the same extent. But the movie takes this way of leaving elements unresolved to heart, it seems. Social commentary and questions on morality are started, but soon make way for the psychological torture inside Joe’s mind and the violence Piggy doles out. It’s like there could have been one film, but they decided on another.
That may be the reason there are some grating moments. One moment Joe’s fearfully pining over his brother in a city that’s full of apprehension and anger, the next he’s being taught everything about fighting and body language by Piggy. At first it’s a movie about a guy who’s too afraid to do anything about his brother’s death in a city that doesn’t care. Then it becomes a violent avenger story. And yes, I know that description sounds like a great movie about a guy fighting crime with pointy… bat ears, but this movie seems to take the two elements and not quite mesh them together correctly.
Joe starts off as a scared little kid who’s lost his big brother. How does he go from that to ‘These people will pay’? If it had happened gradually with more persuasion from Piggy, then it may have been believable. But Joe seems to do it all on his own in a heartbeat. It took me out of the film. Honourable mention must also go to the newspaper headlines. Is it me or are script writers quite bad at writing news headlines? Sometimes they may as well say ‘Info and Exposition! Advancement of Plot!’ Writers should know newspapers are usually sensationalist, especially when they’re the so-called rags of the media world. Headlines don’t just give out all the info, they’re designed to draw you in. It’s the old joke: ‘Politician Caught In Women’s Clothing!’, then you turn the page and it’s Thatcher.
The script itself does have some interesting elements. It’s a noir film in terms of story elements (the voiceover, the one big flashback, a protagonist who’s on the darker side of life). And the dialogue is darkly humorous at times (Piggy compliments the safety-conscious Joe, after Joe lets him in without knowing who he is).
And the movie is, for the most part, tense enough to keep you involved, though at times scenes slow down to a crawl. Moments and beats that are probably supposed to be atmospheric are stretched out. And stretched out is probably the only way I can describe one of Piggy’s iconic moments of violence.
The scene starts out as tense, quickly becoming violent and then almost laughable as he continuously does a not-nice-thing to someone. This scene is probably demonstrative of what the filmmakers did with the film as a whole. There’s a current of tense, psychological beats playing throughout that sometimes give way to over the top violence and weak atmospheric pacing.
Production values are for the most part very high quality. It looks horrible in the way it’s supposed to, showing us Joe’s descent into this underworld and into possible insanity. I do wonder why they gave the bass such a workout though. Piggy’s right hook sounds like thunder from the Gods. And the soundtrack sometimes sounds like noise, as opposed to music or even just tones.
Piggy the film is a lot like Piggy the character. It’s a tad strange. It’s stylistic without being too shiny. The realism behind it occasionally gives way to cartoonish spectacle. It has a couple of issues, but doesn’t really get too deeply into them. And while it tries very hard to be original, you get the feeling you’ve seen something very much like it before.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★