Written and Directed by Michael Sarnoski
Starring Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolfe, Adam Arkin
If ever a film matched the tragectory of its star, its Nic Cage in Pig. Leaving Hollywood proper for its outskirts decades ago, Cage has become the guy who seemingly will work with anyone who is not mainstream. Just like Bruce Willis, his career is in the Redbox ditch. While Willis is there out of circumstance, Cage seems to have arrived because there are more interesting people there.
The story of Pig starts in the woods outside of Portland, Oregon. A man lives there in a shack with his pig, picking up truffles in the woods that he sells to Amir, a young entreprenuer (Wolfe) for things like canned goods and batteries. His life is simple. but it is full.
Then two tweakers beat him and steal his pig in the dead of night.
From here we see Nic work his way back into Portland, with the help of Amir. This middle act is unusual in that he is still battered and bruised and allows himself even more of the same in his pursuit. Unlike many of Cage’s films, his character, Rob, is clearly not a violent man.
The gist of the middle of the story is putting away the nothingness of life, leaving it behind for something that seems like nothing. It’s not nothing, though. It’s evident that Rob is living on a different plane of existence. It clearly bothers him to go back. It’s something he does out of necessity.
Each of the primary characters, Rob, Amir and Amir’s father Darius are hiding from pain they have endured. This lives with them, and it guides their actions. Anyone looking for laughs will be disappointed. If you come to the film with the idea of seeking peace, then you might find some by the time the credits roll to a poingnant and excellent version of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire.
This is easily the best performance this reviewer has experienced of Nicolas Cage. The material and the direction is spare enough that we see the portrait he is painting with a minimum of dialogue. Cage didn’t use a lot of words in Willy’s Wonderland, but his eyes say so much more here.
It’s unclear if Sarnoski is as talented as this work seems. We don’t have enough of a sample size to know if it is lightning in a bottle he captured or if this going to be honed into a skill tantamount to that of, say, Jeff Nichols. Pig makes finding out imperative.
(***** out of *****)