When you hear the logline for the first time pig, Michael Sarnoski’s debut as a feature film director, they would be forgiven for certain assumptions. The film is technically about a loner, played by Nicolas Cage, in search of his treasured truffle pig, who was kidnapped from his house in the woods by a couple of junkies. After this provocative incident, he will emerge from self-imposed “retirement” and embark on a quest that will lead him into the heart of the dark shadows of his community.
On paper, it reads like a gonzo imitation of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick Films in which a hit man comes from exile to avenge a murdered dog. This would also match the current career path that has led Cage, an Oscar-winning actor, into Grindhouse detours like Mandy and mom and dad. However, the story that Sarnoski and his co-author Vanessa Block want to tell is much more intimate and ultimately touching. pig is not an action film (though there is occasional violence), nor is it intended for the trough. Rather, it is a serious series of questions that arise as to why someone – everyone, really – would withdraw from society and what it would mean for that person to deal with it again. About a beloved pig or something.
In fact, many questions came to mind as the movie started with Rob, Cage’s jaded outcast, spending his days hunting for truffles in the woods with his pig and then otherwise ready to end the days at a campsite which he has turned into an extremely functional home. He’s clearly waiting for something, although for much of the movie we don’t know exactly what. Likewise, the nature of his relationship with Amir (Alex Wolff) is initially presented as a mystery. At first appearing like a son, Amir is actually the middleman Rob sells the truffles to. But there is something more lovable, albeit tense, between the two men that comes to the surface long after their search begins and leads them into the town’s unspoken battle clubs and the clutter of monopoly grocery wholesalers.
It is actually Amir who provides the transportation and connections for Rob’s return to the world after the pig was stolen, taking him to the best restaurants in town, and the criminal activity after the hour below. Like onion shavings in a gently layered bowl, we are gradually confronted with the details of Rob and Amir’s previous lives and learn what a stolen truffle pig is really worth to a man who was once an internationally renowned chef before disappearing into the wild.