FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT SEEN PIG, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
Nicolas Cage has made a name for himself, especially over the past decade, for taking on roles in low-budget B-movies that all range wildly in quality. Most of the time these films are just plain awful, but sporadically he appears in a hidden gem that allows him to let loose and unleash his inner “Crazy Cage”. When I saw the mysterious trailer for Pig I thought this would definitely be one of those films.
Especially with him uttering the line, “I’m looking for a truffle pig,”… I thought we were going to be getting another gonzo film with an over-the-top “Crazy Cage” performance, in the vein of Willy’s Wonderland and Mandy, albeit one that was a little more grounded in reality. And that couldn’t be farther from what Pig actually provides, which is an introspective meditative drama on grief. And some people are going to be highly disappointed and turned off by that. Me on the other hand, I just about loved it.
WHAT IS PIG ALL ABOUT?
The film follows a mountain hermit named Rob, who lives a humble life in the Oregonian wilderness in a small cabin, with just his pig by his side. To make a small income, he has trained his pig to hunt for truffles and he sells the rare delicacy to a local vendor named Amir. One night, the man is attacked in his cabin and his beloved pig, his only companion in the world, is taken from him. He contacts Amir who begrudgingly joins him to track down the truffle pig in the Portland’s seedy fine dining underground.
HOW IS NICOLAS CAGE IN THE FILM?
Pig is going to have a rough time catching on, because I have a feeling that many fans of Nicolas Cage’s most recent work are going to completely disregard this film as pretentious garbage. This is not the Cage we have been accustomed to seeing as of late… although he does give us glimpses of some of his most famous quirks, here and there. This is a much more fragile and restrained performance from the Academy Award-Winning actor… and I also think it’s one of his best in years, maybe of all time.
He has taken this character of Rob, who is bloodied and scarred throughout nearly the entire film and given him a heart. A heart that is struck with grief, that has barred him from creating bonds with others. But, where in the past, Cage would have made Rob completely unhinged and out of control… instead, he makes his character wise and observant, yet still intense and unpredictable. His self-control in this performance allows him to actually provide us with a fascinating character study. I hope that this film gets the love that it deserves, so we can get more Nicolas Cage roles like this… along with his “Crazy Cage” ones, of course.
HOW IS THE DIRECTION IN PIG?
The filmmaking in “PIG” is absolutely gorgeous, from first-time feature director Michael Sarnoski. This is a lyrical piece of art, its mix of sound, score, and cinematography completely transport you into this world. And his screenplay reminds me almost of a fable, but one that is grounded in a bit more reality. And as such, the film does feel like it would have been perfect as a short film… though I still admire the movie for what we’ve been given.
ANY ISSUES WITH THE FILM?
I just can’t help, but feel like Pig needed a few jolts of energy near the end. The film certainly starts out in its first part with many moments that feel propulsive, but by its third part it has lost most of its steam. I also feel like Sarnoski could have done a better job at tying a few more story threads together, to create a much more emotionally-satisfying tapestry. I kept waiting for that gut-punch to occur and it almost happened multiple times, but then the film recedes back. It really should have just gone for it.
IS IT WORTH YOUR TIME?
All the same, Pig is a film that will stick with you, long after it’s over. I even went back the next day and watched it all over again, to let it soak in even more. At its core it is far simpler than it first seems, but this is a completely original film that feels so very unexpected. And when that happens in cinema, we should embrace it with open arms.
Pig will be in select theaters this Friday, July 16th,
For more Rants, Reviews and Ramblings make sure to stay tuned to That Hashtag Show!