It seems like every couple of years, Nicolas Cage comes out of the forest to track down the sons-a-bitches who kidnapped his precious female partner. He did it in 2018 in Panos Cosmatos’ hella-trippy Mandy, in which he goes on a violent, vengeful journey to wipe out the cult who took his beloved titular girlfriend. Now he’s doing it again in Pig — and here he goes on a not-that-violent, not-so-vengeful journey to investigate the whereabouts of his beloved titular pet.
Cage plays a grizzled old dude who lives in the woods of Oregon and scoops up truffles with his female pig. All hell breaks loose when, late one night, his prized sow is taken. Our protagonist calls up a young buyer he usually does business with — a very douchey Alex Wolff (Hereditary) — and goes on the hunt for his hog. This means heading back into Portland, where the buyer discovers that the old man is a culinary legend who decided to take up a life of solitude when he lost a special someone.
Yeah, Pig is kind of a wacky movie — dare I say, a tonally scattered one. Writer-director Michael Sarnoski plays everything straight as Cage and Wolff venture through Portland’s weird food underworld, complete with a fight club where food servers beat the crap out of poor schnooks. I’m assuming this is because they need to take the bullshit they absorb from customers out on somebody.
Pig often teeters between solemn-as-hell and amusingly absurd. The scene in which Cage quietly humiliates an ass-kissing chef he knows for selling out and creating trendy bullshit cuisine falls in the latter category. And yet, most of the movie has Cage dramatically wandering around Portlandia, visiting a former home, meeting up with an old loved one and coming face to face with a sinister restaurateur (Adam Arkin) who may know the whereabouts of our boy’s pig.
Pig is yet another movie that features Cage working his stoic, straight-outta-the-woods magic, once again proving he isn’t manic and batshit-insane in every performance he does. I don’t know when it started (maybe with the 2013 David Gordon Green movie Joe), but the Oscar winner has been building quite a rep playing men who seem to be in their element only when they’re in the wilderness. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t know whether to play it straight or balls-to-the-wall.
Considering the fact that this year already gave us The Truffle Hunters — an enjoyable documentary about truffle foragers and their pets (who are mostly dogs) — Pig feels unbalanced and a little too much. However, if you want to see Nicolas Cage act cool, calm and collected, I can’t think of a better movie you should watch.