Nicholas Cage has had ups and downs in his career over the last decade, with some real lows in there (“Season of the Witch”), but he shows in this movie that he still has the acting prowess that won him an Oscar in the 90s.
Cage stars as Rob in “Pig,” a man who lives a secluded life in the Pacific northwest. He spends his days hunting for truffles with his foraging pig, and sells his finds to a single buyer, Amir (Alex Wolff), for simple supplies.
His day-to-day routine is shattered, though, when his pig is stolen in the middle of the night. With a reluctant Amir providing assistance, Rob sets out to get his pig back by any means necessary. However, his journey takes him back to a world he left behind, digging up his past in the process.
“Pig” is a wonderfully unique film. It’s a fascinating experience to watch develop, with a sense of not knowing what will happen next.
The movie plays out with a structure similar to a detective story. Over the course of the picture, the protagonists are investigating what happened to the pig, talking to old contacts and following leads.
Having this detective-like approach feels completely fresh in “Pig,” because of where it leads the characters. The protagonists are brought into what’s basically the underbelly of the local food business, where high profile restaurants get their ingredients from shady characters and backroom deals take place. It’s a new, highly interesting idea for a mystery setting.
The unraveling mystery at play is just one part of what makes “Pig” such rich experience, though. The film is deep with emotional factors that boost it tremendously.
Both Rob and Amir have experienced losses in their life that have shaped who they are during the movie. As a result, the film is also very much about grief, and how tragic events can shape one’s life and outlook.
Their search, and the events of their past, creates engaging drama and amazing displays of emotion. It culminates with a dinner scene full of feeling, no doubt one of the best scenes from a film in 2021.
So much of what powers “Pig” is Cage, who gives an outstanding performance. Cage shows off his range in the movie, able to display the fierce fury his character is experiencing in one moment, and then capture the reserved, thoughtful side of the character in the next.
His work is so intensely fine tuned in the film, adding layers of depth to the character. Perhaps no scene shows this better than when the character is meeting with a chef he used to know.
Wolff deserves plenty of credit, too. While Amir is a side character, he still very much has an arc in the story, and Wolff does stellar work making his character’s emotional journey feel convincing.
The look of the film is also superb, with cinematographer Patrick Scola capturing a grittiness that adds a gripping authenticity. There’s a rawness to what’s on screen that give the movie a realistic perspective.
This was director and co-writer Michael Sarnoski’s first feature film, and I’m thrilled to see what he does next with Vanessa Block, who co-penned the script. They deliver a fantastic, unique and captivating drama with intriguing characters, a perfectly rugged aesthetic and a well written tale of grief. 5 out of 5.