It is so easy to limit Nicolas Cage, despite the fact that he is one of our most extraordinarily versatile and fascinating performers, a chameleonic presence unparalleled in a new generation of performers now taking to the big screen. He is truly unique, which ensures that he is dismissed – either as ‘crazy’, ‘goofy’, or simply a ‘bad actor’, despite acres of evidence to the contrary. From Raising Arizona to Bringing Out the Dead, Leaving Las Vegas to Mandy, Wild at Heart to Face/Off – few actors have a career so jam-packed with left-turns, thrilling swings, dizzying highs and fascinating misses. The fact that Cage is still committing to performances that challenge his persona and stretch his ability, as newcomer Michael Sarnoski’s debut Pig does, is something to be celebrated. Here, Cage dons a heavy beard and long grey locks to play Robin, a one-time celebrated chef utterly laid low by the grief of losing his wife. Since, Robin has fled into the wilderness, to eke out a quiet existence as a truffle hunter with his beloved pet pig. When the valuable pig is one day stolen from Robin, he must venture back into the world he abandoned years ago in search of his one friend.
Whether you’re revisiting this sleeper hit of 2021 or just encountering it for the first time, Pig is a powerful, moving examination of the paralysis of grief, a man-on-a-mission tale as American as a Springsteen song that explores the rapidly changing Portland food scene.
In a time of deep creative crisis in American filmmaking, in which it is harder and harder for original, daring work to find a foothold in amongst the latest exhausting IP reboot or caped crusader dominating the screens, Pig feels like a true outlier. There is something unmistakably American about the film, from the way it unpacks Portland’s specific, rapidly-gentrifying foodie culture – a glimmering oasis of fine dining hiding a sinister dog-eat-dog world beneath – to the friendship that sparks between Robin and his buyer, young Amir (Alex Wolff, fantastic), the son of a local food baron looking to make his mark. The way ambition and grief, longing and loss, freedom and compromise intertwine throughout the film is a wonderful modern evocation of a lost American Dream. That the film is immensely, shatteringly moving by the time we reach the inevitable climax should be no surprise, and yet it is. The idea of a film starring Nicolas Cage called something as blatant as simply Pig implies all manner of preconceptions that could not be further from the film’s modest intentions. Along the way, witness the flowering of Cage’s finest performance in maybe ten years. Pig is a film about opening yourself to change and newness – it’s worth taking a risk, allowing yourself to be surprised.
You can find Pig on Rialto Channel throughout July. Click here for schedule times.
Movie title: Pig (Michael Sarnoski, 2021)
Movie description: Whether you’re revisiting this sleeper hit of 2021 or just encountering it for the first time, Pig is a powerful, moving examination of the paralysis of grief, a man-on-a-mission tale as American as a Springsteen song that explores the rapidly changing Portland food scene.
Date published: June 30, 2022
Author: Vanessa Block, Michael Sarnoski
Director(s): Michael Sarnoski
Actor(s): Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Aarkin
Genre: Drama, Mystery