NEON films deliver another different kind of film with their latest release Pig. Michael Sarnoski collaborates with Mr. Nouveau Shamanic himself, Nicholas Cage, for the film in his directorial debut. Cage portrays Rob, who is a truffle hunter in the Oregon wilderness who lives a simple life. When someone steals Rob’s pig, he returns to his hometown of Portland to find his stolen property.
Before I get into the review of Pig, I want to point out a few things to potential viewers. If you expect something similar to John Wick with Cage tapping into his persona from Mandy, prepare yourself for disappointment. That is not to say the film doesn’t have some action and violence because it does. However, the marketing for the film is a bit off.
Director Michael Sarnoski had this to say about the film, “Truffle hunters will camp out on their porches at night, shotgun in hand, to fend off competing hunters trying to steal their valuable pigs and dogs. That was a fact that felt otherworldly and yet immediately relatable to me. That is where Pig started. It got me imagining what sort of person have such an attachment to their truffle pig that this would be a quest worth following. Then came the image of this tattered old man, alone in the woods with only his pig. Where did he come from? Then his world and history started to unfold around him, and Pig began to take shape.”
If you are still with me, let us get into my thoughts on Pig. Vanessa Block wrote the story for Pig with the director, and a part of me still wants doesn’t know whom the film will appeal to. On the one hand, Pig gives Cage a chance to turn his first award-worthy performance in over two decades. In addition, the film is about a human who wants to enjoy life living off the land while having as little contact with the outside world as possible. For those two reasons, I’m sure there is an audience for the film. Pig is truly the Nicholas Cage show, and outside of Amir’s father and son characters (Alex Wolff) and Darius (Adam Arkin), the other characters are just there.
Michael Sarnoski initially paints Amir as spoiled but slowly reveals layers of the character and the rationale behind his behavior. Concurrently Adam Arkin gets a chance to tap into his antagonistic mental side, which he pulls off with ease. I have always likened Nicholas Cage to Samuel L. Jackson because both actors have portrayed nearly every type of character an actor can. Furthermore, both men will rarely turn down a script. With his latest performance, though, Nicholas Cage reminds that us that he can act. While Pig is not for everyone, the awards talk that Cage is sure to receive is well warranted.
Final Grade: C+
Pig opens in theaters on July 16th .