Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 31 minutes, Director – Michael Sarnoski
When his valued pig is stolen truffle hunter Rob (Nicolas Cage) must return to his roots and past life in order to find her.
There’s a moment of almost confusing shock as Alex Wolff’s sunglasses-donning, suit-wearing Amir pulls up outside of Nicolas Cage’s Rob’s secluded wooden shack. While it’s only a couple of minutes into Michael Sarnoski’s feature directorial debut, Pig, until this point the feeling of a period drama has been created. We’ve seen Cage living a quiet, simplistic life as he and his pig forage for truffles. However, everything almost seems to be shattered on the arrival of Wolff’s ingredients supplier looking for more that he can sell to potential high-end restaurant clients. This seeming break into what we thought was reality simply prepares us for what is to come. When Cage’s valued animal friend is stolen in the middle of the night he must return to his abandoned roots in Portland, Oregon in the hopes of finding her again.
Cage’s performance is calm and collected. There’s a sense of sorrow to his character as well as he must face many faces from his past as a much-praised chef. Rarely in violent confrontation, more often in moments of conversation. A key scene in a restaurant owned by a former trainee of Rob’s is a highlight of the piece. You can feel the anger, upset and disappointment of the central figure rising, yet he consistently keeps almost the same even tone throughout. What pushes the true power and effectiveness of this scene is the fact that it follows one of the most peaceful of the film. The interaction between characters are fantastically observed throughout and make for an engaging film as we see Rob on his far-from-easy search for a pig.
He often looks at people bewildered as if they can’t understand his simple requirement. “I want my pig” he often states to anyone who will, or rather needs to, listen. Regularly he’s a character of little words and that makes for even more interesting relationships and conversations with the other characters throughout the film, each with their own personal issues that are glimpsed at throughout. Sarnoski creates a gentle and thoughtful tone throughout. Both towards the narrative and the characters that help to form it. Yes, things might be fairly simplistic, but it allows for the writer-director, along with the cast, to enhance the engaging character detail. Wanting to see how Rob fares on his journey both in this seemingly strange world that he’s been hiding away from for so long, coming to terms with previous events in his life and, of course, that to find the only company he’s had for most of this time.
Each figure has something to contribute to his story as he does to theirs and each exchange brings you further into the piece with its detail and the strength of the performances from the entire cast. Avoiding a feeling of set-pieces once the film has established itself and opens up Robs past things truly get going and you want to learn more about this seemingly mysterious character and the life that he’s left behind and tried to keep to himself. Through various quiet reveals there’s a lot contained within the quickly passing 91 minute run-time of the piece. It makes for a film that moves things along thanks to the detail put into the various figures that help form the narrative, which further allows for the reflective feel that the film holds to come through. Much of what the viewer gets out of this comes from the screenplay which the fine performances help to bring to life. Led by an excellently restrained top-form Nicolas Cage.
Nicolas Cage is fantastic as the lead of Pig, a thoughtful, reflective piece of work which holds plenty of character detail within its screenplay, performances and simple nature.