Nicolas Cage inside Pig.
Photo: David Reamer/NEON
More Zen fable than genre photo, Michael Sarnoski’s Pig pleasures in defying expectations. After about 20 minutes of opening, you could easily mistake it for a revenge movie, or at least some sort of hillbilly-noir quest story. But those who expect a crazier variation on John Wick or taken or even previous idiosyncratic Cage outings like Mandy can be a disappointment. Pig (now in theaters via Neon Releasing) is by no means that kind of movie. As it progresses, it expands its vision and compassion, even as it de-escalates the tension. It’s not about what it’s about, except that it is in the end all the way about what it’s about.
Okay, let me explain what I mean. Nicolas Cage plays a gray, mournful hermit named Rob, who lives in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and spends his days hunting truffles with his pig, Apple, and then trading them to the big city buyer Amir (Alex Wolff). One night, a couple of intruders beat up Rob and stole Apple. Truffles are big business in Portland’s growing high-end restaurant scene, and a well-trained truffle pig is of course very valuable. Distraught, vengeful Rob summons Amir and the two head into town on a journey that takes them to fancy restaurants and underground fight clubs to find Apple.
That sounds like a crazy idea for a story, but the way it’s played out on screen, it’s even goofier. Aside from the somewhat surreal notion that all this fuss is about a truffle pig, Sarnoski provides some visual hints about the metaphorical nature of this quest. For starters, gray, dirty Rob gets more and more injured and covered in blood as the night goes on – he doesn’t even wash the blood off his face after being beaten up late at night, and he’s already covered in scars from the start , quite violent theft of his pig. And Cage – still one of our bravest actors – plays Rob with a ghostly rigidity that regularly slips from coiled aggression to a straight face. He feels true, but he feels not real.
As the duo travel through the city, Amir discovers that Rob’s full name – Robin Feld – can still open many doors. He was the city’s most respected and beloved chef 15 years earlier. We also find out – gradually, drop by drop – that Robin turned away from his profession. But Amir also has a background story, which is increasingly in line with Robin’s. When he was a child, his parents had dinner at Robin’s restaurant one night, and he remembers that this was the only time they didn’t return from their fight that night. The power of food to heal, to release long suppressed emotions, is everywhere Pig. But that has little to do with food and more to do with connection, a sense of being present and alive that represents food in its purest form.
Most movies that try to explore the backstories of characters would go out of their way to give us heavy details about the past — either through flashbacks or long, terrifying dialogue scenes. Pig runs lightly, allowing us to absorb information through discarded lines and moments of silence. Sarnoski is often content to focus his camera on a small detail or glance, or to cut out the middle of a dramatic moment, as if trying to capture the attention Robin seeks, which he may have lost in the theft of his pig. .
PigThe funniest, most powerful moment comes when Robin and Amir visit the city’s hottest restaurant, a sort of super chic locavore haute-cuisine outlet where the dainty, minuscule dishes come with a poetic lecture about the earth that lasts longer than it would be eat the actual food. Robin calls the chef (Kevin Michael Moore), a former employee of his, to the table and tells him that everything around them is meaningless: “The critics aren’t real, the customers aren’t real, because this is not real. YOU are not real. Why do you care about these people? … They don’t even know you, because you didn’t show them. Every day you wake up and there are fewer of you.” Cage’s ghostly delivery, which contrasts sharply with the chef’s terrified giggles, gives the scene a metaphysical kick. His speech begins to feel like a stabbing humiliation. from a snooty foodie chef, until we gradually realize that Robin is talking about himself.”We don’t get many things to really worry about,” he finally sighs. “Now Dennis, where’s my pig?”
That pig is all that matters to Robin, because it’s all he cares about, and once the pig is gone, he could be gone too. Every step that brings Robin and Amir closer to Apple seems to bring them closer to their own past. These scenes also play out as individual stations in a series of humiliation rituals, in which Robin is beaten both physically and spiritually – as if, after years of hiding in the woods, he finally comes face to face with his own mortality and meaninglessness. , its own transience. During an earlier monologue, Robin talks about the major earthquake that will one day level the Pacific Northwest, and sometimes his words sound not like a prophecy or a warning, but like an oblique reminder of the emotional earthquake that devastated him. However, there is another fold – something more cosmic that reflects on the nature of life itself. Every day we wake up, we are also with less. We all lose the things we care about until we, too, are finally gone.
Filmy One (FilmyOne.com) – Exclusive Entertainment Site