Nicolas Cage is my favorite actor of all time.
There are few actors as impactful, experimental, and dedicated to character like Nic Cage. He takes acting beyond just being realistic and focuses more on being true to the character he’s playing. Despite being so recognizable, he can transform himself like no other, losing himself in a film. Whether the film is an indie, blockbuster, Oscar-winning, direct-to-DVD, genre, leading man, supporting man, or cameo, Nic Cage’s passion always stands out. With this in mind, Nic Cage was the perfect pick to lead Michael Sarnoski’s writing-directorial debut, Pig.
Pig is a drama about an isolated truffle hunter, Rob (Nic Cage), whose truffle pig gets mysteriously stolen. He heads from his home in the Oregon woods into Portland with a client, Amir (Alex Wolff), making his way through the underground restaurant scene to find his pig. While I’ve seen the trailer dubbed “John Wick with a pig” by people online, that’s not the case. Rather than focusing on action, Sarnoski and his co-writer Vanessa Block play the premise completely straight, focusing more on the sheer emotion and desperation Cage feels with zero self-awareness. Sarnoski’s direction illuminates Cage’s sadness from losing his pig and from his isolation. He keeps the film grounded enough to make Cage’s struggle relatable while still giving the film room to breathe. Quiet, contemplative moments are given their due so you can feel the weight of the contrastingly cut-throat and bustling restaurant scene. The film works because of Sarnoski’s confidence; he treats his story and his audience with respect.
The writing is relatively straightforward, which is why it works. Both Sarnoski and Block focus on Cage and his story, with hints of world-building to give their world life. The film doesn’t get bogged down in exposition while providing just enough context and shorthand so we can put the pieces together ourselves. It’s straightforward and doesn’t require much work on the audience’s part, but if you’re willing to dig a little beneath the service, you’ll find a lavish subtextual story on reputation and loss.
Nic Cage carries the film profoundly, shining in the role. His subdued performance allows for every breath and facial movement to communicate raw emotional power. Even a nod from his head speaks volumes. Nic Cage has given growling understated performances in the past, such as in Joe or this year’s Wally Wonderland. But while in Wonderland, Nic Cage’s quiet performance felt almost caricature-like, his performance in Pig feels more natural. His understated performance strengthens his moments of intensity and offbeat humor.
The true strength of Pig is its sincerity. Sarnoski and Block care about their characters, and Nic Cage is wholly dedicated to his role. Beyond being another perfect film for Nic Cage’s eclectic and storied legacy, it’s a powerful drama that is as heartfelt as it is hunger-inducing. Pig will leave you breathless long after the end credits.
Pig is being distributed by Neon will be released theatrically on July 16th.