By Seth Lukas Hynes
Starring Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff
Pig is a poignant paring of cinema down to the fundamentals of acting, dialogue and theme.
Rob (Nicolas Cage), a former chef turned reclusive truffle forager, travels to Portland with his business partner Amir (Alex Wolff) to find his stolen truffle pig.
Cage delivers a soft-spoken but powerful performance of loss and determination, and Wolff is fun as an ambitious, impatient young man with a good heart.
First-time director Michael Sarnoski shows a superb command of subtle details. Within ten minutes, we get a clear sense of Rob’s introverted nature, his love for his pig and a past tragedy before the main conflict erupts. Small gestures and compassionate half-truths carry profound weight, and painfully beautiful memories rush back through a meal.
Sarnoski and Cage avoid portraying Rob as noble for withdrawing from society to live in the woods: Rob’s repressed grief is palpable, and he isn’t wise, so much as brutally to-the-point.
Pig features an engrossing thread of growth and clarity, with Rob coming out of his shell and opening up to the world even as he confronts its vain illusions. The film also has a slight surreal edge, with dementedly-cheerful chefs and a dark underbelly in the Portland restaurant industry.
The only notable issue is the shaky camerawork in some scenes. Like with The Guilty, the annoying shaky-cam can detract from dramatic moments and harm our immersion.
Pig is a truly outstanding character study, and is playing in select Victorian cinemas and available to rent or buy on iTunes.
– Seth Lukas Hynes