Pig is a quest film and a really good one at that. Nicolas Cage plays Rob a self-exiled hermit in the Oregon wilderness whose beloved truffle-hunting pig is violently abducted, forcing him to leave his isolated cabin to track her down in the city and return to a world he turned his back on years before. He’s aided by young Amir (Alex Wolff, Hereditary), his truffle buyer who knows the lay of the land once they’re back in town. Their search takes them deep into the belly of the Portland culinary world where Rob was once a star, and he’s able to trade on that reputation. Cage turns in one of his best performances in years as the weary and wounded chef in this surprisingly touching drama from first time director Michael Sarnoski, who’s someone I’ll be following.
Rob is paunchy and unkempt, but seems to be as content as he’s capable of out there in the middle of nowhere with his pig. They’re a fine team. But one night his cabin door is smashed in and he is beaten and his pig is stolen. A good truffle pig can make someone a LOT of money. But for Rob it’s not about the dough. He loves his pig and it’s the only relationship he has. So, still covered in blood, he sets out to track down the thieves. But they’ve already found a buyer. And since his truck won’t get him into the city, he enlists his only connection to the outside world, Amir, who knows who’s who in the current Portland restaurant scene both front and back of house.
They make stops around town, even at an underground restaurant workers’ fight club. And a scene where Amir finagles a seat at one of the top restaurants and Rob is seated still caked in blood and dirt is priceless, particularly for his take-down of the celebrity chef. Amir’s father (Adam Arkin) is the top purveyor in the Portland restaurant scene, competing with his son to sell truffles and other big ticket foods. And he has a history with Rob, too. (But that’s all I’ll say about that.)
This is not the over-the-top Nicolas Cage we’ve seen so much of in the last decade or two. He’s guarded and interior and it reminds you that the guy can really act. And Alex Wolff is the perfect wing-man for Rob’s odyssey. He’s not a buddy. He’s there to see that justice is done. And the way the script skewers the pretensions of the culinary world is a lot of fun. It’s a smart script, very well directed and shot, and Cage nails it. I highly recommend this one to broad audiences.
[Mainstream Chick’s take: I understand why Arty Chick recommends this one, though I’m not so sure the appeal will extend to broad audiences. The film is nearly impossible to classify, which will endear it to some and put off others. I was a bit torn. I had no idea what to expect other than a film starring Nicolas Cage as an Oregon hermit who goes in search of his kidnapped, truffle-hunting pig. As odd as the premise may sound, the film is surprisingly melancholy as it quietly delve into themes of love, loss and food – punctuated by a few bursts of violence. Cage and his co-star Alex Wolff are both engaging and engrossing to watch. And pet owners will surely empathize with Rob as a guy who truly loves his pig and desperately wants her back. That’ll do Pig, that’ll do. -hb]
Pig premieres exclusively in theaters on July 16.