Photo | “Pig”
Courtesy of Neon
Honorary Mobilian Nicolas Cage delivers a moving, naturalistic performance in “Pig,” a short-but-potent meditation on loss. As Rob, a solitary man living a sparse existence in the woods of Portland, Oregon, Cage creates a character that is as memorable as his more gonzo onscreen personas, but is much more realistic than some of his bug eyed onscreen madmen.
Rob lives with his cherished truffle-hunting pig, his only companion and source of income. With wordless concentration, they forage for the valuable ingredient, and Rob expertly prepares a meal over a campfire, in just the first of several important cooking scenes. Catastrophe strikes when a couple of lowlifes attack Rob and steal his pig. While this sounds like a disaster out of maybe a nursery rhyme, or “John Wick,” the theft of the animal entirely upends Rob’s existence.
Rob usually sells his foraged truffles to Amir (Alex Wolff) who in turn sells them to the fancy restaurants of Portland’s high end food scene, and it is the young, flashy Amir, an antithesis to the ever grubbier Rob, who helps him look for the purloined pig. They set out on their fools’ errand to rescue Rob’s pig in the city, and we come to learn more about Rob and his past.
He begins the film as an almost wordless, enigmatic mountain man, but through the course of “Pig” we see that Rob is seeking not violent revenge, but personal redemption. He retreated to the mountains shattered by some loss we do not know, and his journey to find the pig reconnects him to his lost past. What makes Rob interesting is that he is tough but not macho. He is on the receiving end of most of the punches.
As the under-confident Amir, Alex Wolff (“Old”) is an effective squire on Rob’s journey. Together, their connections to the world of fine dining in Portland is more complex and profound than one might imagine. Nicolas Cage becomes more soulful the less likely it seems that his pig will be returned, and the more he shows us of how he got where he is. He ends up being important to a lot of people, belying his self-imposed outsider status.
While Rob doesn’t do anything as straightforward as become a father figure to Amir, various family dynamics are explored to a satisfying conclusion. Adam Arkin looms large as Amir’s father, struggling like all the characters with a huge loss. The father son pair are important to the story, and Amir’s presence is important in Cage’s scenes.
The plot of “Pig” sounds simple, even silly, and you might expect a Nicolas Cage freaky gore fest from the photo accompanying the title. But “Pig” is a soulful, melancholy character study that just happens to be launched by a porcine crime. The film’s vision and vibe are singular and strange, but it is not alienating or difficult to watch. It is also short, which I think helps keep the scope of this fable manageable.
“Pig” is not wild or weird; it is simple and moving, and Nicolas Cage is riveting and heartrending in it. Never once do you laugh at his dedication, feelings or motives towards his pig. From the setting to the imagined (I assume) underworld of the Portland restaurant scene to the indelible performances, this is a worthwhile, quirky excursion that all Cage fans should certainly experience. His character says “We don’t get a lot of things to really care about,” and in that sense, we don’t get a lot of truly unusual movies that also happen to be completely watchable. Like its main character, “Pig” looks peculiar, but spend some time with it and it has many rewards.
New This Week
“Charming the Hearts of Men” Kelsey Grammer, Sean Astin and Anna Friel star in this romantic drama set during the politically charged early ‘60s where a sophisticated woman returns to her Southern home town and discovers her options are limited yet discrimination is plentiful. With the help of a Congressional ally, she inspires historic legislation which allows opportunities and protections never before afforded to women. Crescent Theater.
“Candyman” In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, Anthony and his partner move into a loft in the now gentrified Cabrini. A chance encounter with an old-timer exposes Anthony to the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to use these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, he unknowingly opens a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence. All multiplex theaters, Nexus Cinema Dining.
This page is available to our local subscribers. Click here to join us today and get the latest local news from local reporters written for local readers. The best deal is found by clicking here. Check it out now.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here