The Edinburgh International Film Festival returns with its best opening gala film in years with Michael Sarnowski’s Pig.
Nicolas Cage stars as a truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.
It would be incredibly easy to offhandedly dismiss this film. For one, on paper the plot could come across as a Taken or John Wick-style action thriller about a man getting his pig back. Two, advance buzz for the film has repeatedly featured the phrase “Nicolas Cage’s best performance in years”.
This feels like an easy or lazy judgement to make. A cheap shot at an actor who has a history for appearing in films of, varying quality, shall we say. However, unlike a certain Bruce Willis, Cage always gives each role his all. Yes, they might not always work but he is never boring. Just look at his performances in 2021. A silent janitor fighting demonic animatronics in Willy’s Wonderland, the “wildest movies I’ve ever made” in Prisoners Of The Ghostland and now Pig.
Much like a truffle hunter, sometimes you have to search through a lot of shit to find what you are looking for. But when you do, the results are delicious. So essentially, the other critics are correct. This is Cage’s best performance in years.
It is a beautifully restrained and soulful performance. Able to hint at an ocean of pain, regret and grief just bubbling under the surface. By playing his cards close to his chest, it allows the mystery of his past to unfold gradually. Leading to a much stronger emotional pay-off by the end of his journey.
Cage is ably assisted by co-writer and director Michael Sarnowski. This might be his first feature but it is clear he is a filmmaker of incredible talent. He takes the core ingredients of a revenge thriller, deconstructs them and elevates them into something new and incredible. Following the structure of working his way up the food chain to get to the big boss, Cage’s sidekick Amir (Alex Wolff) discovers his scruffy unkempt nobody of a truffle hunter is actually a ghost, a legend. A John Wick, “Baba Yaga” of the culinary world. Only in this world, he does not need fists or knives to make his presence felt. Only words.
He might not be a killer but moment where he assassinates the character of an up-and-coming chef in their own restaurant is one of the tensest, brutal and most powerful scenes of the year.It is only his first feature but it is clear he is destined for greatness.
Food sustains us, keeps us alive. Good food can transport us to different places, evoke emotions and create memories. It can change us. The same goes for movies. Pig takes the humblest ingredients and delivers a Michelin-star cinematic feast.
Pig is out in UK cinemas from August 20th
Director: Michael Sarnoski
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
Runtime: 92 minutes