Starring Nicholas Cage, Alex Wolfe,
It’s on the fringe of indie filmmaking that we find this week’s new release. It’s called “Pig” and stars Nicolas Cage, who left mainstream films about a decade ago. The Oscar-winning actor can now only be seen in niche films that are either bizarre or so bad they accumulate a cult following. Michael Sarnoski’s “Pig” waddles somewhere in between, providing neither a satisfactory experience nor a complete waste of time. Whereas the poster depicts something sinister and the trailer stops short of alluding to this as a revenge plot, “Pig” is more existential than anything else. Cage’s character rarely speaks, and even when he does, it’s only slightly above a soft whisper. The short 90-minute film, however, is drawn out by the quiet, somber drifting from one location to another looking for a stolen pig, while exploring the character’s painful past.
Rob and his pig live a quiet and dirty life on the outskirts of Portland. It’s here that the once-famous chef spends his days digging for the rustic mushroom that has become a premium delicacy in finer restaurants. Amir (Alex Wolff) is the handler who picks up Rob’s weekly findings and sells them to the highest bidder. Everything comes to a stop when Rob is attacked, and his beloved pig is stolen. With Amir his only contact to the outside world, they partner up and return to Portland, trudging through his past to find who took the one thing that gives his life meaning. Amir comes to realize who this burly, homeless-looking man actually is, and how using his name in certain circles opens many closed doors.
It’s not a riveting story, nor does Cage add much excitement to its simplicity.
The pig is actually only seen on screen for about 10 minutes, the remainder of the film is Cage walking around asking former colleagues who stole the beloved animal. It’s not a riveting story, nor does Cage add much excitement to its simplicity. Sure, throughout the 90 minutes we learn what caused this man to withdraw from society and the loss he’s experienced, but “Pig” never finds a real sense of emotion, catharsis or originality. Wolff (“Hereditary,” “Jumanji: The Next Level”) plays a character who transforms emotionally throughout the story, but he doesn’t reach the quality of his better performances.
On one hand, we almost need Cage’s character to get violent in defense of the stolen pig because that would make the story at least entertaining. However, this isn’t “Taken: Pig in the City.” While Sarnoski’s film takes some predictable and surprising turns, the audience isn’t left with much to dissect or evaluate.Subtlety was never one of Cage’s strengths and for those who have followed him from “Joe” to “Mandy” and beyond, this might be a departure. For everyone else rediscovering Cage for the first time in a while, “Pig” leaves much to be desired.
Cage’s latest fringe film doesn’t bring home the bacon.