Review by Sean Boelman
Nicolas Cage has become known for his absolutely unhinged B-movie performances, but he’s good for so much more than that. Michael Sarnoski’s film Pig has the premise of a B-movie but the restraint of an art house picture, making this an unexpectedly breezy and delightful addition to Cage’s filmography.
The movie follows a truffle hunter who must confront his past when his prized pig is kidnapped. It’s a film that’s very thin on story and heavy on atmosphere. There have been a lot of comparisons made to John Wick, and they’re understandable from a plot standpoint, but the movie being slow, meditative, and occasionally spiritual, it shares more in common with a Terence Malick film in almost every other regard.
Audiences who come in expecting something action-packed will definitely be disappointed, as this is definitely much quieter than anything we have seen Cage do in recent years. However, that doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t enthralling, as viewers will be transported into the Portland restaurant scene, a unique and specific setting that works quite well.
The script by Sarnoski and Vanessa Block does a good job of utilizing the quiet loner with a mysterious past archetype without making the character feel particularly derivative. However, the highlights of the film are largely the supporting characters, and while we don’t get much from them due to the short ninety-minute runtime, they are still quite memorable.
If the movie does struggle with something, it is that it doesn’t explore its themes especially well. The focus is ultimately on grief and coping with one’s past, but there have been plenty of other films to do this much more effectively in the past. Still, the movie has a surprisingly strong emotional resonance to it.
Cage’s performance is undoubtedly the best he has given in years. He shows a remarkable amount of patience and subtlety in the role, and the fact that there isn’t a ton of dialogue for him really plays into his strengths. In the supporting cast, both Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin give turns that are quite impressive.
The film is just as restrained on a technical level as it is with its storytelling, and the result is understatedly beautiful. Cinematographer Patrick Scola makes some gorgeous images out of both the Oregonian wilderness and the food being cooked, resulting in a movie that is wonderfully pleasant to look at.
Pig is far from what audiences will likely be expecting, but it’s all the better for it. It’s without a doubt the best picture that Nicolas Cage has put out in years, and will rank up there among his best work in his entire career.
Pig hits theaters on July 16.