To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Pig is a buddy drama film directed by Michael Sarnoski in his directorial debut from a script co-written by Sarnoski and Vanessa Block. It stars Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, and Adam Arkin, and follows a formerly famous Portland-based chef turned reclusive asocial truffle forager named Rob whose beloved truffle-foraging pig goes missing. He reaches out to his associate Amir, a young and inexperienced supplier of luxury ingredients, to take him down to the city so that he can track down the people who took his pig.
Pig is not your typical buddy film as it is less action-comedy and more subtlety and heart. In a world where we have John Wick going after gangsters for killing his dog, it is nice to see a different take on this genre. Knowing what roles Nicolas Cage is known for and all the crazy films he’s taken over the years, it was easy to imagine this film like John Wick with a pig. Fortunately, this is a tale fueled by love and not by revenge. Getting into the story and finding out it’s just about the chef looking for his pet opens up the door to a different experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You expect him to go on a rampage once he finds out what happened and all hell to break loose because he is clearly angry and sad. But what he ends up doing is use his connections to find out what is going on. And even that storyline is different than what you would expect once you reach the end of the film.
While this misdirect might turn some people off who were thinking they were getting an action movie, I think it works better in terms of the story the film was telling. In a world where all films starting to feel like a copy and paste of each other, it’s nice to experience something distinctive. I think this is a great directorial debut for Michael Sarnoski and I hope he continues to direct more films like this. There are times where the film feels a bit too slow and drags on in the middle but the pace eventually picks back up. I do feel there are about 5-10 minutes you could’ve shaved off of this film to make it a tighter more cohesive story that would’ve moved at a better pace. The cinematography is also very well done with Patrick Scola capturing the gray and cloudy atmosphere of Portland famously. The sound mixing also adequately complements the film. It’s quite somber and quiet, alluding to the depressed state that both characters are in, but at the same time hopeful. We know of the main depression that Rob is with the loss of his wife and now his pig but there is an underlying depression that Amir also represents with his failing relationship with his father and mother.
Nicolas Cage is satisfactory in this role. Rob is a calmer character than those he’s been playing lately. He is very self-concerned and in-erratic, with the singular thought of getting this pig back being all that he cares about. We are shown that Rob is a widow and that once he lost the love of his life there was nothing left for him and civilized society. Being on his own, cooking and hunting for truffles with his pig give some solace and that’s all he needs. There are many scenes where Rob talks to his former acquaintances and employees and he is very blunt in how he speaks to them. To some, it may come off as him being an asshole but he truly cares about their choices. The best scene in the movie hands-down is in Rob is talking to Derrick, a former pasta chef at Rob’s restaurant, about why he’s opened this Haute cuisine restaurant when he originally wanted to do something entirely different. This causes him to break down as it is something he has not thought about in a while. The lesson that the viewer can take from this and anybody, in general, is most of us as we grow up tend to fall in line and get these jobs that guarantee success instead of doing what we love. Even if it’s an offshoot of what you love is not exactly what you want to do.
Alex Wolff does a good job complementing Nicolas Cage as well. His character Amir has a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove. Visibly coming from a family of wealth and privilege, he wants to pave his own way and not have people think he only got to where he is because of his father. This has put a strain on their relationship but he feels it is something that he must accomplish. This is a trait amongst a lot of young businessmen in America who don’t want to be seen as having it given to them. It is the street that leads Amir to work with Rob knowing that he has a “secret weapon” so to speak against the other people in his field. By the end of the film, these two characters are tied together by the film’s most important lesson. That lesson is that food brings people together in ways people don’t tend to notice. If you sit down and think about it, people share so many memories over the meals they have had with family, friends, etc. Just remembering these moments that keep them alive in our hearts even when they are not with us.
Pig reminds us of the range that Nicolas Cage has as an actor. He recently came out saying that he will never retire from acting, and I am very happy about that. He does so many movies and he’s not afraid to push the boundaries from being a crazy terrorist in Face/Off to an amusing treasure hunting adventurer in National Treasure. I give Pig a Solid 6.7/10. While there are better films that have come out this year, Pig is still one of the more enjoyable films plainly because it is different.