Director: Michael Sarnoski
Written by: Michael Sarnoski
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin
Liam Neeson had his daughter taken, Keanu Reeves had his dog killed and Bob Odenkirk very recently had his house broken into. Adding to the middle-aged revenge films is Nicolas Cage having his pig stolen. Unlike the other films, Pig is an emotional, slow-burn thriller with one of the best performances of recent times. This is Cage at his absolute best giving a career defining performance as Rob, the truffle forager.
To date Cage has starred in roughly one hundred films. Even in some of the trash he’s been in recently, Cage is usually the stand-out part. In Pig he commands the screen, giving a powerful and subtle performance. There are moments in the opening scenes when he’s just looking at his pig and you can feel his love for it. You’d believe it if that was Cage’s pet pig off-screen, even though it isn’t. There’s just a bond between them that’s palpable from the opening sequence.
The film starts with an overhead shot of running water, with the running stream loudly encompassing you. It’s a palate cleanser, telling you to leave everything from the real world behind and be absorbed into the world of truffle foraging. After a few scenes of Cage and his pig going about their lives, the pig is stolen, and Cage is left unconscious on the floor. He then awakes and sets out to find his friend with the help of an acquaintance Amir.
The premise sounds silly and something that Cage would normally do with high-octane energy and lots of manic shouting. In the hands of any other director that’s probably the film we would have gotten and I’m sure there would be some classic Cage moments in there. Instead, the premise is taken incredibly seriously. The kidnapping is horrific, with the pig squealing as it’s carried away into the night. The violence that happens shortly afterwards, confined to one scene, is brutal to watch. Cage carries the scars and blood on his face for the rest of the film.
Pig never goes where you think it’s going. The plot moves at its own pace, keeping one hundred percent of your attention every step of the way. There are moments where the set-up is familiar, but the outcome isn’t. This isn’t a film where Cage is going to run around shouting and shooting until his pig is safe. This is a film set very much in the real world, even if it feels like you’re in the criminal underworld of truffles at points. It’s sombre and dark film that mediates on the theme of loss and grief. It’s an emotional film that will shake you.
There is also a twisted sense of humour that runs throughout most of the film. Cage’s outfit looks sweaty and musty and seeing him in one of the fanciest restaurants being served prestigious dishes is a highlight. Followed quickly by the emotional destruction that Cage delivers to the chef by deconstructing his entire life in the same way that the restaurant serves deconstructed dishes.
The cooking sequence is shot with such precision that it’s the biggest cinematic love letter to food since Jon Favreau’s Chef. The food looks exquisite and the classic score in the background is the cherry on top of the scene.
Pig is a better film than anyone would think after hearing the premise. It’s Cage’s strongest performance in years and one of the best films of the year. It’s slow, subtle and an emotional story. This is one to watch and it will stay with you for a long time.