Pig Review

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: When his truffle pig is stolen, a former chef (Nicolas Cage) returns to his old stomping ground, Portland, in the hopes of recovering his beloved animal.

REVIEW: I've said it time and time again when reviewing Nicolas Cage movies, but he's got two modes these days. One is DTV Cage, where he tries to have a little fun at least, even if the movies range from routine to poor. The other, however, is a different beast. In movies like Mandy, Joe, and now Pig, Cage is absolutely at the top of his game, reminding everyone within our first glimpse of him why, despite dozens and dozens of bad movies, he still can be counted on as one of the greatest actors of his generation.

Pig, by its premise, sounds a bit like John Wick with a different kind of animal in jeopardy, but that's not at all what this low-key character study is. With almost a complete absence of violence (save for Cage taking a pummelling or two), this is a compelling story of a man who, at the top of his game, virtually walked out on his life to become a hermit. When we meet him, he's sporting a scraggly beard and mane, with only his beloved truffle pig to keep him company. He sells his wares to a young wheeler-dealer, Alex Wolff's Amir, but otherwise has next to no contact with anyone.

Bit by bit, we start to realize he's left a life behind but feels no tie to anything but his animal. He doesn't want revenge. He wants his friend back. Amir proves to be a surprising accomplice, being Portland food royalty, with his father a food supplier (played by Adam Arkin) who's made a fortune through his access to the finest ingredients in the world.

Pig is a striking debut for director Michael Sarnoski, who gives the movie an evocative look (with DP Patrick Scola) and feel. Again, it's not the film you'd expect given the premise, but instead, it's a much more realistic look at a man's life and what would drive him to leave everything behind. Chefs have become celebrities in some ways now, but I think we often ignore the fact that, for many of them, their food is art, and like all art, it takes a toll. There's an amazing scene about halfway through where Cage's character encounters a former underling, who's become a celebrity chef in his own right, and decimates the way he's sold out his dream of owning a gastro-pub to cater to high society.

Cage hasn't had a role like this in a long time, and I was consistently surprised at how subtle his performance is. He never once loses his temper throughout or chews the scenery. He's matched by Wolff, who, following Hereditary, seems like a star on the rise. I was also surprised at how effective Arkin was in his small but important role, with him having been absent from films for a long time as he's mostly been directing TV in recent years. He's powerful and intimidating.

While Pig won't be for all tastes if you like more cerebral Nicolas Cage, similar to his work in David Gordon Green's Joe, Pig is a must-watch. We've got plenty of "fun Cage" in recent years – but this is something different. Regardless of how many movies he churns out, Cage is still a hugely powerful actor, and nowhere is that more evident than in Pig.




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Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.