Reviewed by Cassie Jo Ochoa
Have you ever loved something but forgotten its history? Not a love that is driven by nostalgia, exactly, but a love that is almost indexical. A favorite meal at a place long closed down, or a song that makes the heart skip a beat when it’s played in a clothing shop but doesn’t remind you of anything in particular. It’s a love that reaches across time and space and screams out that you are still you, no matter how hard life has been. Pig, the latest Neon release, is a film that uses that love like a weapon against its characters to astonishing effect.
Nicolas Cage stars as Rob, a reclusive man who spends his days hunting truffles with his pig in the woods. His only point of contact to the larger world is selling those truffles to Amir (Alex Wolff), an up-and-coming salesman who buys his truffles for elite kitchens. When the pig is forcefully taken from Rob in the dead of night, his journey back into the shadows of the culinary world he left behind a decade ago begins. Of course, one would read the premise and immediately think “ah it’s a revenge tale, Nicolas Cage is going to go straight into Mandy mode and the bodies will pile up.” I’d hate to disappoint, but revenge is not the goal. Rob just wants his pig back, and Cage plays him as a reserved man who is willing to go through hell for love. This is the most reigned in Cage has been in years, and it pays off marvelously.
Pig has an almost effortless quality to it; it wanders through a dreamlike state but never losing its drive. Director Michael Sarnoski knows when to linger just long enough on a glance that communicates more than words can say. The film walks such a delicate balance that even just a moment too long could cause the world to collapse, but it never does. The script is equally surefooted, although a few moments are a bit too clever for its own good. Nevertheless, Sarnoski does admirably with his debut feature and leaves a hell of a first impression.
It’s truly hard to fully dive into the world of Pig without spoiling elements of the story that need to unfurl. Each moment makes the whole of the movie special, but admittedly it is an acquired taste. Some moments might not fully connect as going through hell for a pig is certainly a hard sell, but Brandy the pig does a great job making the loss truly felt in her short screen time. It’s a film that will leave an indescribable emotion on those that connect to its wavelength and will at least be brief for those who didn’t.