Not since Keanu Reeves went on a rampage when his dog was killed in Chad Stahelski’s John Wick (2014), or Tom Hanks had an existential crisis over a volleyball in Robert Zemeckis’ Cast Away (2000), has there been such an unlikely, unexpected, unusual close companionship as there is between Nicolas Cage and his porky partner in Michael Sarnoski’s Pig.
The latest and surprisingly best gritty indie drama to hit the public is more along the lines of a buddy movie than an action flick. And even more surprising is that the buddies paired don’t include the pig.
In the greater wilderness of Oregon, Robin Feld (Cage) is a once-respected local chef who has been living as a recluse for over a decade with the bare minimums since the death of his soulmate. His only company is a female pig and only human communication seems to be with a modern yuppie named Amir (Alex Wolff), who stops by once a week for a “supply.” When Rob’s pig is kidnapped in the middle of the night, the cook ropes Amir into aiding him in finding and rescuing the animal.
Pig is Sarnoski’s feature film debut as a writer-director and already shows he has a distinct vision and style to help him stand out in the future. Cage, also a co-producer here, shows once more how versatile his career can be when he’s not phoning it in with mediocre, low budget schlock.
As with David Gordon Green’s Joe (2013) and Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy (2018), Cage isn’t afraid to make himself look and feel dirty in a seedy underworld environment. In this case, it’s bizarrely and nearly humorously the food industry, which is portrayed and treated as the mafia or drug lords of the Pacific Northwest.
What’s impressive is that even with the ridiculous perspective, the film is never unintentionally funny or breaks its tone, staying pretty consistently atmospheric and effective. Pig also marks Wolff’s best movie and role since his breakout performance in Ari Aster’s Hereditary (2018), bringing a unique and memorable spin on the “new money in suit” character type.
Sarnoski’s movie could have been another one-man-against-society revenge piece, but instead is a fascinating, original take on the old guiding the young. Pig is just the right amount of weird and intriguing.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.