‘Pig’ review: Nicolas Cage shines in this sweet, bleak tale of a fragile world

Nicolas Cage He makes a lot of bad movies that seem deeply questionable for a man who is not only a talented actor, but has been a part of some of the best films of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. And yet when you see him starring in movies like Primitive, Kill chain, A score to settle, Y Running with the devil Since they all come out in a single year (2019) and evaporate as fast as they hit VOD, you’re left with the question of what exactly is he doing with his career besides cashing paychecks. And that’s a shame because then a movie like Pig appears and clusters in that kind of movie when it is much more than its simple motto of “Lonely man goes in search of his stolen pig.” Instead of the scenery chew cage that people say they like to see, this is the quietest movie cage like Joseph with a largely soft-spoken performance showing that Cage still knows how to do it when the image demands that kind of work from him. Michael SarnoskiThe movie is a sad and brooding affair of holding on to the last vestiges of the things that matter in a world where we have so little to hold onto.

Rob (Cage) is a recluse who lives in the woods outside of Portland with his truffle hunting pig. It is a quiet existence where his only contact with the outside world is the impetuous and selfish Amir (Alex Wolff), a young man who arrives in his bright yellow Camaro every Thursday to buy Rob truffles. In the middle of the night, unknown assailants break into Rob’s cabin, knock him out, and steal his pig. Bloodied and beaten, Rob ventures out and requires Amir to carry him. A reluctant Amir, who is working to be a part of Portland’s restaurant scene and sees truffles as a valuable asset in that ascent, decides he has no other option to lead Rob on his search. As they search, Amir discovers that Rob is much more than a hermit looking for a pig, and that his search isn’t just about looking for a creature that can dig up truffles.


Image via NEON

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I care about a movie like Pig because technically it is a Nicolas Cage vehicle, although it is very different from most of his recent production. If I told someone the logline, I wouldn’t be surprised if they expected Cage to yell and punch people looking for his pig. Basically they would think it could be John wick but a pig instead of a cub. Pig it’s not that movie. Cage doesn’t hit anyone. He rarely raises his voice. Instead, Cage reminds us that while he can bring delicious insanity in movies like Mandy, when you exercise restraint, you can really get into character like you do here. Rob is one of his most fascinating roles and the story of Pig It is not so much about finding the pig (although that is the plot that moves the story) but about Amir (and the audience) discovering what would lead someone like Rob to live apart from society and at the same time feel the need to break that seclusion to find a pig.

Sarnoski frames this quest wonderfully with superb cinematography that also highlights Rob’s psyche, particularly through the motif on the door frames. Rob is a man who has consciously left a stable, domestic existence and has chosen to live in a borderline appearance. His last human relationship is with Amir, and it’s tenuous in that the two men don’t really know each other, and yet even though Rob is most certain of his current existence, Amir is constantly putting on a show to mask his own insecurities. This conflict further highlights Rob’s worldview as a man who cannot be a part of our world because he is simply too fleeting and he has already lost what mattered most to him. What Pig unfolds, we can see that the pig is the last thing Rob really loves in this world and even that has been taken from him despite his simple existence. Pig It is not a story of revenge, but of loss.


Image via NEON

Some may find Pig a disappointment because Cage isn’t going crazy looking for a lost pig, but that would be a disservice to both Cage’s work here and the Sanroski movie in general. We need to make room for Cage to keep doing these kinds of roles and encourage them when he does. There is no sign that Cage will stop doing his forgettable VOD job, and look, I’m not going to envy the man for his money, especially when he still finds time to do a good job like Pig, Mandy, Y Joseph. I admit it’s strange to say, “The movie about Nicolas Cage searching for his lost pig made me sad and anxious about our fragile place in the world and forced me to look at what I really value in a chaotic and unpredictable universe.” But that is the truth. Pig It’s not the movie we expect from Cage these days. Thanks god.

Rating: A-

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