Seen: 14th December
When one thinks of a Nicolas Cage performance, they tend to think of something big and crazy where Cage is going at 150% the entire time. You think of things like him screaming “Arrgh, not the bees”, you think of his wide crazy eyes, you think of someone who is unafraid to be completely committed to the most insane things he’s asked to do in any given film. Sometimes this leads to maddeningly strange performances like The Wicker Man, sometimes this leads to people using his skills perfectly for films like Mandy or Willy’s Wonderland that almost worked around Cage’s eccentricities as a performer.
Pig is a glorious reminder of the raw talent that the man has, there’s a reason he’s an Oscar winner and Pig probably should be the reason he gets a second but you know the Academy will never do anything that interesting.
Pig is about a man named Rob (Nicolas Cage) who lives a fairly solitary life in a little rustic cabin in the woods, just him and a truffle pig who helps him hunt for truffles that he sells to local restaurants. It’s a quiet and solitary life, until one day when a couple of people break into Rob’s home and steal his precious pig.
Desperate to get his porcine pal back home, Rob decides to return to society, with the help of his old friend’s son Amir (Alex Wolff), in order to go find his pig no matter what it takes. His absolute adoration for his sweet swine will take Rob on a journey through the seedy underbelly of the restaurant world and put him up against some of the worst people he will ever know… and he will make them all know just how much he loves that pig.
This is one of those films that kind of gloriously plays the audience for chumps in a way that is just beautiful. For the first half hour you kind of expect a John Wick style film to appear, all the hallmarks are there just waiting to let Nicolas Cage run about and do a large amount of violence to a lot of bad people in order to get his pig back.
Instead the film decides to take a sharp left turn and turn this entire film into a quiet ponderous piece about how the love of something can be what gets someone going in the morning, be it the love of a pig or the love of an occupation or just love of power. There’s a quiet beauty that just slowly ebbs throughout this very strange film about a man trying to find a pig, a sentence that is impossible not to giggle at when you say it out loud.
For a film with a premise that sounds almost farcical, what you end up getting is an intense drama dealing with heavy topics like loss, hope and strength in the worst moments. Its main character is almost totally defined by grief that pushed him out of society and the only thing keeping him going is the love of a pig… somehow that is the heaviest and most intense drama that I’ve seen in a long time.
In all honesty this film just shouldn’t work, it’s a slow ponderous piece full of emotion that’s focused around a man’s hunt for his living bacon buddy but thanks to the absolutely perfect performance by Nicolas Cage, Pig works on so many levels. Cage is about as calm and controlled as he will ever be, barely even speaking for large portions of the film and moving slowly the entire time but it’s all intentional. It’s a hyper controlled performance that pulls you in, you can see his fear and pain of loss in every moment and you just want him to get his pig back every time he comes up on an obstacle.
Sure the rest of the cast is fine, particularly Alex Wolff who bounces off Cage wonderfully but there’s exactly one person who owns this film and his name is above the damn title. Throw on top of that the fact that this film has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. It keeps you invested the entire time, making your heart break every few minutes and throwing out gut punches like they were on sale.
Pig is almost begging the audience to find reasons to make fun of it, from its concept to the overly dramatic poster with that simple 3 letter word stamped on it… but oh my god does it work. It’s a heartbreaker, an emotional rollercoaster that will make you sob over the thought of just what could be happening to this pig. It’s absolutely brilliant, so brilliant that it’ll make you squeal in absolute delight.