It’s not a documentary spotlighting animal culture, but a suspense near-thriller starring Academy Award winner Nicholas Cage (where’s he been lately?). The actor’s career is at an intriguing point. Check out “Mandy” (2018) and “The Color Out of Space” (2019), films revealing his over-the-top personality. Cage switches here, revealing a captivating performance. Initially, fans might be offput, expecting to see the actor reverting to another kooky portrayal.
To be sure “Pig” strays from the usual output of tinsel town product. Like Cage’s film career, the narrative is offbeat, a kind of eccentric comic drama resembling a reprisal potboiler with a stolen pig building the intrigue factor. However, be advised there is limited action and violence.
Rob (Cage) is a culinary chef reeling from an unsettling situation. Deeply disturbed, he abruptly packs up and heads to Oregon, finding refuge at an isolated cottage in the wilderness. His only companion, a valued pig. More than just a porker, the animal is skilled at hunting for truffles, a prized and expensive addition to gourmet dining. It seems Rob’s only connection to society is steady customer Amir (Alex Wolff) who zooms around in a sports car reflecting a casual attitude towards life.
With a sudden swoop, Rob’s serenity is shattered when thieves pignap his cherished pet in a night attack, sending him on an outlandish quest to bring home the bacon. Screen writer/director Michael Sarnoski brings some thoughtful issues, such as grief and loss, setting a melancholy, wistful and often jocular tone to the narrative.
On the surface. the plot sounds like some sort of revenge opus, with Cage reverting to his character daftness seen in past flicks, though quite restrained here. These expectations shore up the unique aspects of director Sarnoski’s vision. As Rob’s pig hunt progresses, viewers become aware of his past history, particularly of an incident leaving him racked up and so mentally inert, he still grieves more than a decade later.
Truffle hunting is a big bucks enterprise with the delicacy selling for thousands of dollars. Dogs and oinkers are trained to sniff out the forest fungus, hence Rob’s affection for his four-legged money-making hog companion who is coveted by ruthless rivals.
Here, director Sarnoski expands on the narrative, revealing why Rob is so relentless in the pursuit of his valuable fat companion. His past life, or lives, have been mired in a complexity of pain, memories and agonies, grieving over the passing of a woman which has effectively shut him down all these years.
“Pig” is “high on the hog” (forgive the phrase), enlivened by Nicholas Cage’s unexpected emotional performance. Credit director Michael Sarnoski’ s original story and screenplay of a character moving on from trauma. Cage pumps breath into the film’s message of memories, essentially a character study. The actor plays shaggy and grizzled, but his performance adds smooth reality.