Written by: Michael Sarnoski
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
The relationships we, as humans, can build truly make us stand out in the animal kingdom. Not only with our own species but also with other animals. It demonstrates why many will cry more for the loss of their pet dog or cat than for a family member. Pig sets up this almost ridiculous plot, but as the narrative plays out, it demonstrates an incredible beauty in caring for someone or something else and how it appears in the act of cooking.
Living a reclusive life with his truffle pig, Rob (Nicolas Cage) gets attacked by burglars who take his pig away from him. On a journey to get her back, he enlists the help of the person he sells truffles to, Amir (Alex Wolff), as they scour through the Portland restaurant scene to find who’s responsible for taking his pig.
Connotations mean a lot and with the majority of Nicolas Cage’s films hitting the 99 cent bin of local Walmarts, convincing someone to see a film starring him as he searches for his pig may be a hard sell. However, they would be missing out on such a beautifully moving experience with a story containing so much heart in an industry many would not believe would be so hard-edged. It’s what makes this film so endearing and ultimately something so incredibly impactful in the most surprising way.
One thing this feature nails down hard is the connection between cooking for someone and how it shows a level of love to the person receiving it. Anyone who has cooked for another person, which should pretty much be every able-bodied person whether they know it or not, is committing an act of love. The effort of collecting ingredients and crafting them into a piece of nourishment for another person contains a level of beauty I have personally never thought through but something Pig wants to emphasize. This ideal becomes clear when it’s revealed Rob is not just some recluse living with some pig but rather a world-renowned chef who decided he wanted to step away from society following a traumatic event.
Truly a beautiful element of cooking that most people do not think about but when considering those who cook for others, it rings true. Whether it be a parent for their family, an individual for their date, or even assembling foods for a charity, the time and effort always come across as an act of love. It can be tedious at times but in the end, the person on the receiving end is receiving nourishment meant to replenish their body with nutrients. I bet no one thought something so profound would be found in a 2021 Nicolas Cage film.
Outside of the cooking element, this feature goes incredibly hard with an industry underbelly many do not really think about. The truffle business in Portland evidently comes with plenty of competition to the point where there’s distinct turf of who these restaurants purchase from. Without the context of truffles, the way Amir speaks about the business, it could easily be mistaken as perhaps the drug business or other illicit products. It gets that serious and it brings a level of uniqueness to this story and once it gets to the Fight Club-level sequences, this film goes all-in on the restaurant game of this city and things get incredibly intense.
Additionally, this film truly clamps down on the idea of what it means to care for something. It almost becomes weird how much Rob cares for this pig and when questioned about it, he states the very poignant line of individuals only being given a few things in life to truly care about. A statement I may not specifically agree with but the point still stands. No matter how much Rob cares for this pig, it remains that he carries a special bond with it he simply will not let go. The scene in the trendy Portland restaurant where a complete discussion about the passions of life digs deep into this idea, which completely tracks with everything else displaying Rob’s incessant journey to get back his pig.
Often derided as a performer because of his over-acting and selection of films recently, it must not be forgotten Nicolas Cage is a phenomenal actor, truly one of the best in the business. He certainly gives a more subdued performance here without much dialogue but everything the man says comes drenched in wonderful meaning. It makes sense considering the man spends most of his time with a wonderful truffle pig. He’s had nothing but time to process his feelings about everything and the silent pain this character has comes through in Cage’s performance in such an astounding way. It might be quite the sentence to utter, but this just might be his greatest ever effort.
Surprisingly moving and incredibly insightful, Pig has so much more on its mind than being a journey of trying to retrieve a pig. It becomes the continual pursuit of one’s passions and the power of cooking all told through someone who has lost it all but maintains a level of hope and love for an animal most people would be fine cooking up for some bacon. Truly sublime and one of the biggest surprises 2021 had to offer in its slate of films.