Directed by Michael Sarnoski, Pig follows a truffle hunter Rob living alone in the woods who must go to the city near him to find the people that stole his pig.
Pig once again proves that Nicholas Cage is one of the most interesting actors working in the industry. It’s astonishing how passionate he is for offbeat scripts. Scripts that let him experiment more than he did with his previous project. He’s done a handful of movies in the last two years. The notable ones I’ve seen are Color Out of Space, Mandy, and Willy’s Wonderland. All three, although being unique in their own way, can still be bundled as weird psychedelic thrillers. Pig, however, is nothing like that. What initially comes across as a John Wick remake with a pig, is actually a very mature and emotionally profound film. It’s a film that felt to me like it would not and should not work, but it does. I’m very glad Nicholas Cage got to do something truly different than the roles he’s been getting. Showing us once again he truly is an amazing actor.
It isn’t about you
Pig is not about revenge. It’s about kindness, growing older, growing wiser, and being empathetic. Everyone knows how the usual revenge plot goes. Man loses someone, goes on a journey to seek revenge and by the end realizes vengeance isn’t what he needs. It’s a classic formula and if done well can be repeated endlessly. But what do you do with a character that isn’t interested in revenge? What if he just wants his old life back? How do you establish an arc if you’re already in the emotional state you wanted to be at the end? That’s what makes Pig interesting. And the reason why, I think, is that it shows regardless of how emotionally sound you are, grief still hurts. Nicholas Cage’s Rob handles nearly every situation with empathy and kindness. But that doesn’t rid him of the pain in his journey. Pig reminds us very well that there are mature ways of dealing with loss and failure. Even though things might not work out, there’s no reason to make yourself suffer more.
A Pig in a Cage
Nicholas Cage gives his best performance in years and is a delight to watch. There is considerable restraint in his performance, even in scenes I half expected him to just let himself loose. Even in moments of pain, he contains himself and conveys deep emotion just with his eyes. Alex Wolff also does a great job as the comic relief complimenting Cage’s morose demeanor. He has emotional levity to his character as well but it just comes up much later on in the story.
There are some minor lighting issues from a production standpoint that occasionally too me out of the moment. There is a pivotal scene in the film that felt very underlit and was grainy for probably a good 15 seconds. This happens a couple of times again but never hinders the story making it acceptable. The story, although rich in its themes, follows a very unexciting plot. Every character Rob meets on his journey feels very obviously placed to flesh out his backstory. Clues to finding the pig are very conveniently dropped by the people he meets almost as if it was the biggest news hitting town. A more natural approach to the plot might’ve made his interactions feel more exciting.
PIG takes a huge risk in depicting grief from a very mature and wise character’s perspective but pulls it off with finesse. Nicholas Cage puts forth his best performance in years and reminds me he’s one of the most interesting actors to follow. Barring some issues in the script that make events feel a bit convenient, it’s a great indie directorial debut from Michael Sarnoski.