Pig (2021)
Pig (2021)

Genre: Drama and Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: July 16th, 2021 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Sarnoski Actors: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin, Nina Belforte, Dalene Young, Gretchen Corbett, Darius Pierce

 


 

“P

art One: Rustic Mushroom Tart” (of three, separately titled parts) sees Oregonian mountain-man loner Robin (Nicolas Cage) and his trusty truffle pig unearth a monstrous beauty of a truffle, which he takes home, presumably using a sliver to prepare a sumptuous meal. It’s just the two of them out in the vast wilderness, but that’s fine by them; Rob doesn’t get along well with others. For money, the bearded hermit receives a visit every Thursday from Amir (Alex Wolff), who picks up the latest collection of highly valuable fungi. They exchange no words, however; Rob only ever speaks to his faithful pet.

“It’s just coyotes,” Rob says to the squealing swine one night, but he’s soon proven terribly incorrect. Someone busts down the door, beats him unconscious, and steals the specially trained hog. And so, like John Wick or any of the many not-to-be-messed-with movie protagonists done wrong, Rob ventures into town to reap vengeance against the dastardly pig-nappers. “They took my pig.”

Gruff, grizzled, disheveled, bloodied, and stone-cold focused, Cage is instantly comical – in a good way. If anyone can pull off a movie about a man pushed to the edge over a truffle pig theft, it’s Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage. The premise couldn’t be stupider, but his performance is unexpectedly genuine. And the dialogue is about as ridiculous as imaginable (more than once, someone will question whether or not the recluse has sexual relations with the porker), yet he somehow delivers it with a sincerity on the level of other action stars fighting for more realistic – or heroic – causes. Unbelievably, the supporting roles manage to respond without bursting into fits of laughter.

Writer/director Michael Sarnoski apparently realizes that the simplistic setup isn’t enough to fuel an entire film, so he wisely incorporates a wealth of other bizarre happenings and subplots into the mix, including brutal underground sporting events, Amir’s business specialities, and the various tragedies that transformed the main character into a cloistered truffle hunter (these generate a modest amount of tension, as they seem to be on the verge of something visually appalling or repulsive). None of it is all that important, however; much of it feels like stalling tactics to delay what viewers actually want: bloodthirsty revenge against the evil pig-purloiners. But before those malicious pig-pilferers meet justice, Rob gets to unleash a couple of deliriously weighty speeches about human decency, the truly important things in life, and existence itself. “We don’t get a lot of things to really care about,” Rob delicately conveys, bringing a fancy restaurant’s chef to tears, before whispering, “Who has my pig?”

“Buy yourself a new pig.” Perhaps what’s most unexplainable about this latest Nic Cage foray into hopelessly outlandish story concepts is that his involvement alone somehow sells the idea. None of this would work, except that Cage has become the larger-than-life, hysterically-odd type of persona who can stumble his way through the most nonsensical of plots, imparting a strange gravity to what would, in another actor’s hands, be complete and total rubbish. Here, the seriousness is relentless, but the laughs are continuous; in its attempts to be grave and meaningful, “Pig” inspires routine chuckles through ceaseless weirdness (in rare moments, it reminds of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”). People simply don’t behave like this – yet in the context of the film, it’s all perfectly acceptable. In the end, however, it’s not enough; Cage may be mesmerizing in every scene, but only because audiences are anticipating some spontaneous, chaotically absurd freak-out (utilizing a very special set of skills), which this production just isn’t able to deliver.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10