Directed by Michael Sarnoski.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin, Nina Belforte, Gretchen Corbett, Dalene Young, Darius Pierce, and Cassandra Violet.
Robin Feld (Nicolas Cage) lives alone in the woods with his only companion. When others come to pillage and plunder, taking away his only solace, Robin must venture back into the world to track down his Pig.
On paper Pig sounds outlandish. A premise featuring one cute porker, one wild eyed Nicolas Cage in sombre mood and lots of silence. In practice, Pig is an exercise in Zen level film making centred around a nuanced performance. During the moments of minimal dialogue, superstar stasis and impassioned pleas for the return of a truffle pig; this film revels in serenity.
At its centre, Pig is a quiet exploration of grief and how people choose to channel their emotions. Robin Feld has ceased to function in the outside world, choosing instead a life of solitude and isolation. Once a revered chef, he now avoids human contact, finding solace in a reconnection with nature. His log cabin, idyllic setting and permanent four legged companion imbue each frame of film with a sense of peace.
A single solitary link to humanity comes in the form of Amir, played by Alex Wolff, who purchases the truffles Rob precures for sale in town. When that link is severed by a barbaric night time assault and stolen pig, reconnection is unavoidable. In that moment, writer director Michael Sarnoski goes against every genre trope imaginable, choosing not to unleash the Nicolas Cage we all know.
There are no desperate foot chases, bloody reckonings or clean cut resolutions. Instead, there are low key visits made to powerful people within Portland’s catering industry. Gradually it becomes clear how much respect, reverence and mastery Robin Feld possesses. He takes a beating in silence, with just the slap of bone on bone, as people stand around watching. Then reduces a head chef to ashes through silence, by reigniting his passion for food.
Pig is much more than a simple redemption tale, with cuisine as its central focus. What Michael Sarnoski is asking goes deeper than that. He calls into the question the futility of pursuing something, purely for financial gain. He points out the meaningless charade of overachievement in the scrabble for status and validation. In an hour and thirty minutes he offers up an opinion, rather than a solution, using Nicolas Cage to channel those observations.
It has moments of abstract genius, which will recall the male posturing of Fight Club, before segueing into a mesmerising cooking montage involving our leading man. Such is the precision of this dialled down performance, that plot almost ceases to matter. Underneath the dishevelled demeanour is a sharp mind and keen eye, capable of evoking emotion through inanimate objects. Memories are recalled of a long forgotten love, as husbands remember their wives for who they were, not what illness has made them.
There will be some frustrated by the pacing, which is pedestrian at best. While for others, Pig will register as a prime example of why Nicolas Cage remains unique amongst screen actors. His commitment to projects, irrespective of profile, always promises something interesting for those willing to take that leap. One reason amongst many, why Pig is perhaps his most interesting work in some time, allowing audiences to watch a vintage performance from an underrated veteran.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★