“A truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregon wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.”

Director: Michael Sarnoski
Writers: Vanessa Block, Michael Sarnoski
Staring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
Release Date: July 16, 2021

Pig is a simple story, but it’s filled with complex characters and complex performances.

Rob (Nicolas Cage) is an isolated man living in the woods hunting for truffles with his pigs. Amir (Alex Wolff) helps him facilitate his truffles to various restaurants and distributors. A complication arises when Rob’s home is ambushed and his pig is stolen. He walks to Amir and they begin looking for the pig, but things get complicated when Darius (Adam Arkin) is revealed as Amir’s father and the pig stealer. The path to resolution is Rob educating those on his past self, which is kind of a big deal.

Nicolas Cage is remarkable as Rob. Pig does not work without the talents of Cage. When people think of Cage, they think of the bombastic yelling and legendary face of pain and anguish. The screams go with over-the-top facial expressions and poetic body language. The beauty of Pig is that you don’t get any of this. This is Cage turned down to negative eleven. He is quiet and understated.

The ultimate test of this comes in the latter moments of the movie. You think that the volcano is about to erupt. The choice that director Michael Sarnoski makes is the perfect exclamation point for staging the audience’s expectations with what is right for the story.

What Cage does bring to the role is his ability to create an aura of mystery around a character. Watching Pig, the universal audience thought is that there is more to this man. That is where this screenplay comes in. Rob is escorting Amir on a journey into a world, a world that Rob used to be in and that Amir wants to get into. The stakes of high-end restaurant business are steep, but it’s slowly revealed that Rob once made that climb.

Alex Wolff is very good as Amir. I briefly had him in my own private Oscar Nominations but he was just booted out. Wolff takes Amir through an journey of perception. We meet him and think he is a dick, but then we are given hope when he helps Rob. Some revelations bring him down to his lowest point, but by the end you’ll be lowering the rope to pull him back up.

The best part of Pig is the ultimate Cage scene. Rob and Amir are in a restaurant looking for answers on the pig. The chief recognizes who Rob is, and the pair of them have a short history together. Through this conversation, it is revealed that their is much more emotional to Rob than meets the eye. Rob pulls on a memory that is sharp and roasts the chef. The char is not on the food they were served, but rather what do you want to aspire to have through cooking.

Don’t be surprised to have a sorrowful smile on your face at the end of Pig, The story gets more emotional than you’d think, and the subtle themes and revelations about the character Rob will make you draw connections between memories.

For me, myself, and I, Pig is nominated in two categories for the Stanko version of the Oscars. Nicolas Cage has inserted himself to the Best Actor conversation, and Vanessa Block with Sarnoski have their original screenplay nominated. Pig is also one of the 10 best movies I have seen from this year’s contenders, so therefore it is in the Best Picture 10 as well.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.0/5 Stars)

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