Michael Sarnoski’s Pig is best savored when not knowing what course it will take next. This is more of a character study with Nicolas Cage playing a fascinating one. It’s a reminder of how special he can be when the recipe is done right.
Cage’s Rob lives off the grid in the Oregon wilderness with his trusty truffle pig. When that beloved companion is taken from him, the unkept and determined recluse makes it his mission to bring home the bacon. By his side is Amir (Alex Wolff), a supplier to high-end Portland restaurants who is seemingly Rob’s only non-swine contact. He has a strained association with his rich father (Adam Arkin), who pulls a lot of strings in this unique world of Pacific Northwest based foodies.
I wouldn’t blame you for assuming that Cage goes all John Wick in his quest. That’s only one area where the screenplay (written by the director) leaves you pleasantly surprised. Our lead has given us gobs of overly hammy acting outbursts and the one named Pig lets him do the opposite. This is a mostly quiet and even subtle performance from Cage.
This picture is about past and current losses and how Rob and Amir deal with them. It’s about relationships that cannot be rekindled, but how the memories of them could help heal. The script also amusingly plays around with the self-importance of its characters. This applies to chefs preparing tiny and pricey meals when they’d rather be cooking something else. There’s also Amir’s incessant classical music listening with a voiceover telling him how special it is.
We also see glimpses of an underground lair of culinary employees who seem to adhere to a code known only to them. This is a strange universe which might be at home in a John Wick flick if explored further. To borrow another Keanu Reeves reference, it’s also one in which Rob used to be its Neo. All of this comes together due to that sow swipe, but Pig has more on its mind thematically than revenge. This dish serves up consistently unexpected rewards.
***1/2 (out of four)