I didn’t really have much in the way of expectations for this film, I just knew I was excited. While the theft of a reclusive truffle farmer’s pig is the catalyst, Pig is ultimately a sweet and heartfelt story about how we deal with loss and finding those things in life that are truly worth caring about.
Wackiness and questionable projects aside, Nicolas Cage is one of our finest living actors. His range is undeniable and with a strong script and good director, he’s shown time and time again why he was the most in-demand leading man in the business during his heyday. Many castle purchases and tax issues later, he’s a more nuanced and refined performer than he’s ever been. General moviegoing audiences just don’t get reminded of it too often.
I saw this movie on its opening Thursday and the theater was almost completely full, teeming with energy, and ready to laugh at Cage’s latest zany outing. That persisted through the first act but, by the midway point of the second act that energy had burnt off and people were actually starting to pay attention to the character’s (Rob’s) journey.
Michael Sarnoski packed a lot into his 92-minute debut feature. His script isn’t without humor but it’s well-earned when it happens and it makes the emotional payoff more substantial when you get there. Sensing the tonal shift in the audience was a strong indication that Sarnoski’s story had begun to transcend the sort of off-the-wall Nic Cage film many people have come to expect every time out. He is still as magnetic as ever. Sure, he spends a good portion of the film looking like a seasonal mall Santa who didn’t pay his bookie on time but that’s the kind of thing he can pull off. There’s just an undeniable presence he brings to the screen and the buzz surrounding his performance is justified.
Opposite Cage, Alex Wolff gives a fantastic turn as Amir, a small-time truffle dealer who is Rob’s only real connection to the outside world. When Rob’s pig gets taken, Amir is thrust into helping and it’s through his journey of discovering who Rob really is that the audience can begin to move along that path as well. Wolff has done a lot of great work in his young career and he and Cage are excellent together.
Expectations can sometimes get in the way of having a good time, so check them at the door and just experience one of the year’s best films.
Recommendation: If you are looking for a thoughtful and engaging antidote to the summer blockbuster season, you’ve come to the right place. And Cage hardcores won’t be disappointed.