The last few decades have been a whirlwind of ups and downs for Nicolas Cage’s career. He’s gone from headlining blockbuster movies to frequently taking on mostly straight to video titles.
Every few years he still manages to come along with a performance that is so outstanding that it defies some of the other work he seems to be taking more for the paycheck. I’m thinking of his brilliant turn in David Gordon Green’s 2013 film “Joe” or Panos Cosmatos’ insane horror film “Mandy” from 2018. You can safely add “Pig” to this list.
In Michael Sarnoski’s directorial debut, Cage plays Robin Feld. At one time, he was at the top of the culinary world in Portland, Oregon. After a massive personal loss, the renowned chef walked away from society and became a recluse.
As the film begins, Robin is living off the grid in a forest cabin with no running water. He doesn’t have many possessions except for his trusty companion, a pig who helps him forage for truffles deep in the woods.
Robin has been surviving by selling the truffles to a young dealer named Amir (Alex Wolff) who supplies local restaurants with the high-end ingredient, but a competing dealer sends some ne’er-do-wells in the dark of night to break into Robin’s cabin to assault him and steal his beloved porker.
The film’s initial plotting is slow and serious, but this is where things pick up and we head into a “John Wick”-esque revenge thriller.
Unwashed and bloodied from the heist, Robin begrudgingly enlists Amir’s help to get him back into the city to hunt down the culprits. His mission is laser-focused. All he wants is to get his pig back, by any means necessary. This mission is made slightly more difficult by the fact that he looks (and certainly smells) like a vagrant.
Patrick Scola, who also handsomely captured Chicago and the first date of the Obamas in “Southside With You,” gives us beautiful shots of Portland and the surrounding wilderness where Robin hides while also not shying away during the film’s darkest moments.
After only seeing the trailer for the film, I thought I knew exactly what I was going to get, but the screenplay from Sarnoski and co-writer Vanessa Block is filled with surprises. It flows from horrifically violent sequences to sincere emotional moments that help you understand Robin’s desperation and off-kilter state of mind.
Cage delivers one of the finest performances of his career thanks to a sharp script that also gives Wolff a chance to stand his ground next to the legendary actor on the screen every step of the way.
“Pig” will unquestionably become a cult favorite and is truly one of the biggest surprises of 2021.
“Pig” is still playing in select theaters and is now available to rent or buy from all digital providers. You can also watch Nicolas Cage in “Joe” on HBO Max or “Mandy” on Shudder.