Nic Cage plays understated in a tale of loss, grief and the power of food

By Bradley Lane

Almost exclusively known for his over-the-top acting style, Nic Cage has garnered a cult following for his signature style. Cage gives 100 percent to every role he portrays whether or not the film matches his effort level. This is often seen as a weakness or a low-brow style compared to his contemporaries, but I view it as a beacon of Cage’s professionalism. Despite his legendary career and Academy Awards recognition, Cage gives the same effort to direct to DVD low-budget genre films that he gives to large studio blockbusters. This signature acting style reaches new highs under the direction of Michael Sarnoski in his triumphant directorial debut.

In Pig, Cage portrays a reclusive truffle forager named Rob, isolated from the outside world, aside from his truffle sniffing pig. He lives a peaceful life in the woods, trading truffles for supplies and caring for his pig. That is until one day his pig is stolen from him, forcing Rob to return to society, and a world he turned his back on, to track down the last thing he has left to care for.

Pig is a slow burn. It takes its time to dole out information about the plot and characters but always with a purpose. The film aims to draw a parallel between the pace of the story and its subject. Besides allowing the filmmakers to saturate the audience with beautiful scenery, (rendered all the more serene by masterful cinematography) this choice to slow roll information mirrors the central theme of the story.

Hidden amongst Cage’s performance in each tiny mannerism and every word is his overwhelming sense of grief. It isn’t immediately clear why he is hurting, but it’s clear it left him reeling: away from people, his livelihood and the world. What Rob learns throughout the film is not how to relieve grief but rather how to live with it. This is communicated expertly through not only the characters’ dialogue but also within Cage’s performance.

It is rare a filmmaker comes out with a debut film that is so stylistically defined, with a voice so fully formed. Sarnoski takes cues from neo-realist film to create characters and a story you’ll not soon forget. Pig, one of the best films of last year, and surely an awards contender this year, is currently available to stream on Hulu. 4.5/5 stars