Film review by Jason Day of Pig, the drama about a down-and-out man searching for a truffle hunting pig. Starring Nicholas Cage and directed by Michael Sarnoski.
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Rob (Nicholas Cage) is a former cordon bleu chef who operated one of the finest restaurants in Portland, Oregan. Nowadays he lives a largely solitary life, off the grid in the backwaters of the state, sustaining himself from the profits of the truffles his prized big sniffs out for rogue restaurant trader Amir (Alex Wollf).
Review, by @Reelreviewer
I want my pig back.Rob (Nicholas Cage) sets out his aims and objectives in Pig (2021).
First off, a note to burgeoning truffle connoisseurs out there. It seems you don’t need to own a prize pig/dog/olfactorily-astute animal to sniff out the most financially lucrative funghi. The best way to ‘root them out’ is to follow the foliage as certain truffles grow near the roots of certain trees.
For me, watching Nicholas Cage in this movie and enjoying his performance has been like a welcome step back in time. Too often these days we associate him with parts in (as I have it) forgettable, fanciable fluff like The Rock (1996), Face Off (1997) and Con Air (also 1997) with his sometimes unintentionally hilarious turns.
But Cage is also the man who was adorably inept in the comical Raising Arizona (1987), thrillingly, dangerously sexy in Wild at Heart (1990) and made seismic shakes in the role that won him an Oscar, Leaving Las Vegas (1995). You realise with these movies and Pig he’s had bigger critical hits than misses.
You would think that a movie called Pig would feature a pig prominently in it, but in spite of being referenced every few minutes you don’t see much of it after the first reel. It’s all eyes on the main star and Cage is in his hobo-happy element.
Rob is a difficult character, obtuse and almost mute, so it’s the mark of a great actor that he makes you stay with the movie and empathise with him.
He certainly doesn’t mind ‘letting himself go’ as the shabbiest, greasiest example of ‘going off the grid’. The pig looks cleaner than its owner.
Contrast his appearance with the young, flash, clean-cut, well-groomed Imran (Alex Wollf) who buys his prized truffles and is probably the only regular contact Rob has had in more than a decade and you get the set up of the movie. The clash between the greedy, corporate and deluded types of the big city and the ‘real’, grounded, folksy people like Rob who see their crap and the world for what it is.
In one very uncomfortable scene Rob visits the underbelly of this civilised society, an underground ‘fight club’ where rich men pay money to beat the living hell out of homeless men. Rob submits to this humiliation in order to get information about his pig’s whereabouts, so committed is he.
Do pigs make good pets? Are they as loyal to humans as dogs? Word is that pigs, as sensitive, friendly and intelligent animals who enjoy snuggles are so you can imagine why Rob is so keen to get his back. We’ve all seen videos on sites such as The Dodo about how people will go to the ends of the earth for animals, so it’s no surprise Rob sets off on his beguiling, if somewhat grim, porcine odyssey.
Cast & credits
Director: Michael Sarnoski. 1hr 32 min/92 min. AI-Film/BlockBox Entertainment/Escape Artists/Hungry Bull Productions/Pulse Films/Saturn Films/Sweet Tomato Films/Valparaiso Pictures. (15)
Producers: Thomas Benski, Vanessa Block, Nicholas Cage, David Carrico, Ben Giladi, Adam Paulsen, Dori A. Rath, Joseph Restaino, Steve Tisch.
Writer: Michael Sarnoski.
Camera: Patrick Scola.
Music: Alexis Grapsas, Philip Klein.
Sets: Gwen Hopman-Damon.
Nicholas Cage, Alex Wollf, Darius Pierce, Adam Arkin, Cassandra Violet, Julia Bray, Elijah Ungvary, Beth Harper, David Knell.