Nicolas Cage is back to doing obscure quirky films, something that he has always thrived at, usually delivering his most memorable performances. Think, John Wick but with a pig, and without the fighting and violence, the only real comparison to be honest is that a man goes searching for something. Never has there been such a star pig since 1995’s Babe, but this cute little truffle hunting expert gives him a run for his money.
This time around, Cage plays Rob, a mysterious hermit and truffle hunter living in the Oregon wilderness with his treasured pig. After his hut his broken into in the middle of the night – Rob is beaten up and his pig is stolen – Rob travels to Portland to find the people responsible for this heinous crime, sending him on a collision course and nothing is going to get in his way.
This is the debut film for director Michael Sarnoski (who also wrote the screenplay and the original story) and it is an impressive feat to say the least. It is a melancholic ride of unexpectedness, supported by themes of love and loss that carry a great weight to them. It is a revenge thriller without the need for action and violence, relying on pure emption and compassion – to have a revenge thriller without any actual revenge is unique in so many ways.
Cage is completely captivating, delivering one of the best performances of his topsy turvy career. We all know his problems; the fact he takes on any role these days with varying success but thank God he agreed to this because it shows just how impressive he can be. I’m a big fan of Cage, so it is a blessing to see him back to his best, hopefully this is a resurgence of nuclear proportion.
Pig is split into 3 parts; part 1 introduces us to Rob, the truffle hunting hermit who lives in the Oregon wilderness with his prized pig. Not much is known about Rob, he is a man of few words, and his past is a mystery. Rob sells truffles to Amir (Alex Wolff), an up-and-coming businessman – a yuppie if you will – who aims to follow in his dad’s successful footsteps. One night, Rob is attack in his own home and his pig is stolen, Rob then travels to a nearby gas station and enlists the help of Amir to assist him in tracking down his pig, willing to employ any means necessary to get the little snorter back. Rob and Amir enquire with rival truffle hunters about the pig’s whereabouts, gaining a lead that forces them to travel to the bright city lights of Portland, Rob’s old stomping ground, the place he ran away from years previously.
There is more than meets the eye with Rob, he knows shady men in Portland and its underworld of illicit deals and back-alley street fights, which just seems to be a group of kitchen porters throwing down for money. The trail of the pig gets larger and larger as the story goes on, each new encounter revealing more truths for Rob.
Part 2 begins with a heart-to-heart conversation between Amir and Rob, Amir mentions his parents were unhappily married but once had a beautiful moment together after eating a meal at one of Rob’s restaurants – Rob used to be a famous chef, a talented and well-respected chef, not a feared hitman like I first thought – with Amir’s mother later committing suicide. Rob also mentions how his culinary partner and wife Lori, also died years earlier, which was the cause for him to retreat to his obscure life in the woods.
The two men follow up another lead that takes them to a fancy new contemporary restaurant; full of glitz and glamour and “Instagram celebrities”, which is run by a former protegee of Rob’s. The chef tells Rob that it was in fact Amir’s father, Darius (Adam Arkin) that stole Rob’s pig after information he received from Amir. After a confrontation with Amir and later Darius, Rob hatches a plan to get his pig back by contacting his former colleagues to assist him in making Darius the most delectable dinner ever, in the hopes of buttering him up so he can get his pig back home. Will it work, or is the pig too far gone and never to return?
I liked this film a lot, I went into it completely blind which worked out fabulously. I was expecting this John Wick type of film, and I am so happy this wasn’t the case. The pacing is slow and that is what makes it endearing and mysterious. There was no need for fast paced action, it was spearheaded by emotions and character development.
The two main characters are fantastic; Cage is brilliant in his role, subtle and powerful. Wolff is also great, his characters development and attitude towards Rob slowly changes, they become friends almost. They are an enjoyable foil for one another, they contrast drastically: the straight man and the clown of sorts.
You almost forget there is a pig missing at times, there is a stronger message to be heard from within. The pig is a metaphor for his partner dying years earlier, the way Rob talks about “her” is a true giveaway. The film is a poem of sorts, a poetic journey about love and loss, redemption, and loneliness. A truly wonderous film, the redemption of Cage it certainly will be.