In recent years, having Nicolas Cage partner with an talented independent filmmakers and directors is a recipe for success. Mandy (2018) and Color Out of Space (2019) have been for me some of the defining works of Cage’s acting life over the past few years, and any independent film project he is a part of, I’m always curious and excited to check out. I learnt about Pig only this week, and went into the film not having seen the trailer or having any idea what it’s about. I came out of it surprised by its ability to convey feelings of loss and grief in such a uniquely poetic and philosophical way.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
The drama film is co-written and directed by Michael Sarnoski in his directorial debut, and stars Nicolas Cage as Robin “Rob” Feld, an ex-chef turned reclusive travel forager, who lives with his prized foraging pig. One evening, two men break into his hut and steal his pig. With the help of Amir (portrayed by Alex Wolff), a young, inexperienced businessman who is trying to make a name of himself in the luxury restaurant business, and also the person Rob sells his truffles to, they try and hunt down the person who stole the pig. This dynamic between both characters is just so mesmerising to watch. Rob is alienated by the realities of city life and this constant need for validation from others, seemingly deeply grounded by the realities of the restaurant industry and society as a whole, while Amir more flashy in his appearance, is all about serious business and being the most successful person he can be for himself. This stark contrast between viewpoints makes their dynamic so fascinating to watch. Rob sees past this ultra-capitalist bullshit within the restaurant industry, and seems to have alienated himself fully from that lifestyle. While we don’t get to find out how and why he ended up living in the woods by himself, there is an allure and deep loneliness in Cage’s performance that doesn’t make me question why – he’s so deeply human, both in the way he loves and interacts with his pig, and his distant, introverted manner in which he speaks to those around him. It’s clear that he wants to be alone, he values living alone, he doesn’t want to lead a social life. The defining quote from the film for me was when Rob states that “We don’t get a lot of things to really care about.” This is such a deeply relatable line, and one which defines the human experience in such a profoundly beautiful way. Human beings have become corrupted, by capitalism, materialism and the need to feel validated and accepted by others. This was most poignantly expressed in the contemporary, high-end restaurant scene, where Rob confronts and questions the chef, Derek, an ex-employee of his, about the true reason for opening a luxury restaurant when Derek’s dream was to open a pub. Image, money, profits were all factors in opening a luxury restaurant, but Rob was quick to remind him that nobody really cares about the restaurant or the chef for that matter, and all of this was for nothing. Rob’s attention and care was always focused on the pig, and while he doesn’t have that strong of a connection with a human being, his affinity for this animal is a reminder of the importance of value, and where we look to seek a sense of fulfillment or love. This is my biggest takeaway from this film, and it’s done so beautifully.
Another thing to add is that the cinematography, color palette and landscapes throughout the film were truly beautiful. There was a shot in the beginning of the film where Rob and his pig were in the woods together, and the beams of sunlight from the morning permeated through the tall, densely populated trees within this cold, damp landscape. It captured the loneliness yet the beauty of Robin’s life in the woods beautifully, and the power of human interaction with nature around us. I highly recommend watching this film for this reason, as well as the incredible acting (one of Cage’s best performances in years) and the profound and intriguing anti-capitalist / anti-materialist message that permeates throughout.
Watch the trailer below: