Nicolas Cage has been quite the unique entity in Hollywood over the past few years. His choices in roles have led many to label him as a classic cult icon. Most recently, Cage has received quite the acclaim for his “Cage rage” performances in films like Mandy and his recent movie, Willy’s Wonderland, a film that offers up 0 dialogue from Cage in a film where actions speak louder than words.
With his recent roles, it’s hard to imagine that his latest film, Pig, would be no different as the film’s premise essentially would have many, including myself assuming “Cage rage” would be in full effect. When Cage’s Pig is kidnapped, however, was I ever wrong as Michael Sarnoski’s film offers up a dark character study that results in not only one of the surprises of the year but Cage’s best performance in quite a while.
On the surface, Pig tells the story of Rob, a truffle hunter who hunts for truffles in the outskirts of Oregon with his truffle pig as his only friend and companion. When his only confidant is kidnapped, Rob goes on a journey with Amir (Alex Wolff) to find his pig.
Pig offers so much more than a search for a pig, as, throughout the film, Sarnoski’s cerebral pacing allows cinephiles to examine the worlds of the wilderness and glossy modern society. Furthermore, this examination enables the audience to understand Rob and Amir’s reasons for their individual lifestyle choices.
What works so well is Sarnoski’s choice to tease that the film will entirely shift tones to a John Wick-style revenge action film but never goes full throttle. What will feel like a misstep to some, I found it an intriguing mechanism that keeps you engaged throughout. Pig’s true goal is to study the human psyche and the individualization of coping with a traumatic life event and, in turn, effectively accomplishing that mission.
There is no denying that Cage dominates the film. However, it’s not in the fashion many expect. In a top-tier Cage performance, he reminds us of the actor’s talent that once led him to win an Academy Award. Cage is haunting in the film as he offers up a nuanced, understated, yet powerful performance. When Rob loses his pig, you feel his grief in a way that guides cinephiles to encapture that very same feeling as if we, ourselves, lost a pig.
As mentioned before, Pig dives into the world of different levels of socioeconomic lifestyles and culture. While Cage is front and center, the supporting players assist in analyzing the film’s philosophical themes. Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin both provide a gateway to ulterior motives where money and wealth outweigh human emotion.
Pig is going to challenge viewers, and all should welcome it. The film will haunt you and allow you to contemplate its rich themes if you allow yourself to open up to its cerebral style. In return for opening yourself up, Pig will indeed satisfyingly cleanse your cinephile palette.
Pig opens in theaters on July 16, 2021.