A film with a title as bland and crass as Pig could only be mocking its own lack of affectation. Sure enough, Pig is a film not to be taken lightly. Because it doesn’t seem to take itself lightly. It means business. Serious business. And the first-time director Michael Sarnoski is as no-nonsense as his hero Rob Feld who is a truffle forager by profession and the pig who digs out the truffles from the forest, where Rob lives alone,is his best friend , only friend.There are voices from the past. But only the pig in the present.
The kidnapping (pig napping?) of the animal (simply addressed as The Pig) could have signalled high comedy. You know the one about the man’s unhealthy kinky obsession with the beast friend?
There is nothing even remotely funny about Rob’s distress at the pig’s disappearance. He must find the pig, come what may. From this point in the taut lean mean and irate plot, the mood becomes that of a suspense thriller where the hero goes looking for his missing love, and so what if it is a pig? None of anyone’s business.
Not that he asks for it. But Rob is aided by a much younger, far more sociable guy called Aamir, played with candour and feeling by Alex Wolff. But make no mistake. This film belongs to Nicolas Cage. He owns the film and his character, suffusing Rob with a kind of all-pervasive doom desolation and rage that would stop at nothing to get back what it loves.
I have to confess I had stopped watching Nicolas Cage’s venomous vomit of endless films after something called Mandy where Cage’s girlfriend had been burnt in a sack by some cult criminals before his obligatory vendetta spree.
Cage escapes his vicious circle of vendetta in Pig to portray a man who has nothing to lose… except his life and a pet pig. For the director to create empathy for such an eccentric choice of partnership is near-impossible in theory. On screen, first-time director Michael Sarnoski converts the potentially ludicrous plot into a haunting searing parable of loneliness and redemption.
Rob’s search is never robbed of dignity. The narration takes him through various vicious violent encounters with people in the town that he once ruled as masterchef. He then became the hermit who would rather befriend the pig than prepare the pork.
The film’s respect for its protagonist’s choices in life is embedded in every frame. You would be hard put to find a single superfluous irrelevant moment in the plot. Pig is a triumph on many levels. It brings an almost unbearable level of tension into Rob’s search for his animal that metamorphoses into much more than just a beast for us the audience. That is the true magic of creation. It makes us believe in the hero’s belief when he gives us no reason to go by his convictions.
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