Nicolas Cage is never predictable. In a year that has already seen him face off against animatronic killer mascots (Willy’s Wonderland) and embark on a bonkers Japanese odyssey (Prisoners Of The Ghostland) comes one of his best and most moving performances in years.
Pig‘s plot has been summarized as “Nicolas Cage searches for his kidnapped pig”. It’s a synopsis that does the film a great disservice, belying the true depth and emotion at hand.
The quiet drama set in the Pacific Northwest features Cage as Rob, a reclusive truffle hunter living in the woods with his beloved foraging swine. A former superstar chef, Rob lives deep in the wilderness—without the need for friends or even a shower—but his name still manages to awe those who have been lucky enough to work in his kitchens or enjoy one of his meals. When his pig is kidnapped, Rob leaves his hermit lifestyle behind and re-enters Portland society in search of her. Eschewing a change of clothes, he is busted and bloodied as truffle dealer Amir (Alex Wolff) chauffeurs him through his past on a quest to find his pilfered porker.
“Who has my pig?” a grizzled Cage asks in the trailer. While that line may have titillated Twitter with hopes of another manic Cage performance, Pig contains anything but. Cage plays Rob quietly, never giving away too much of who he is or where he’s from. As the layers slowly fall away, we see a man shaped by the losses in his life. Both moving and emotional, this is the sort of performance that reminds viewers just how capable and versatile an actor Cage can be.
Slow and beautiful in all the right ways, Pig is an assured feature debut from Michael Sarnoski (who co-wrote the story with Vanessa Block) too. It’s definitely not John Wick with a pig. In fact, the mystery of Rob’s pig becomes secondary to his personal journey—one often aided by encounters with people and places from his past. Though the premise and trailer promise a bloody and violent cinematic battle, it never comes. Instead, the power of grief drives the entire moving experience and it delivers not just Cage’s best performance since Joe, but one of the year’s biggest surprises.
Pig opens in theatres on July 16.