Pig had a limited theatrical release in U.S. cinemas on July 16, 2021 and was just recently released on digital to rent or purchase on August 3rd. It currently possesses a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 152 reviews from critics. The film is directed by Michael Sarnoski, which is his directorial debut. I was pretty disappointed that Pig wasn’t playing at any theaters near me, but was ecstatic and immediately sat down to watch it after I discovered that it was already available to watch digitally.
Pig observes Rob, a truffle hunter, as he travels to Portland to search for his treasured pig after it was stolen from him. On his journey, he rediscovers events and people from his past that uncover more about him as a person.
Simply put, all I need to say is that Pig is the best movie of 2021 and is a complete triumph of filmmaking and storytelling, but I want to share more… about why I absolutely LOVED Pig.
I will first start off at the very beginning of the film. They did an outstanding job of showcasing just how distant Rob (Nicholas Cage) was from society. He has one human interaction with a truffle buyer named Amir (Alex Wolff), and that is really the only piece of humanity that he sees.
From the very start of Pig, you can see the sincere connection that Nicholas Cage’s character has with his precious pig. The story undoubtedly established that Rob’s pig was the only family that he had, before ultimately stripping it away from him. Rather than just immediately having the pig stolen, I appreciated how they dove into the emotional companionship that he had with the animal beforehand.
This movie is whole-heartedly a character study, delving into Rob’s extensive suffering and grief that arose from his past. I love the initial mystery that surrounds Rob and his reasoning for living alone in the forest. Especially how Amir, the only present contact that he has with the human species, knows virtually nothing about him. As the film continues to progress, it slowly allows the audience to perceive Rob’s backstory unravelling right before their eyes. While I would call this a slow-burn, I can assuredly say that I was not bored for a single moment. The pacing is utterly flawless, exhausting all of its 92-minute runtime to the brim.
While Rob is the focus of the story, there is also some amazing character development for Amir. At the onset of Pig, Amir seems like an arrogant, rich, and judgmental individual. However, as the knot of his character begins to become untied, you can see how his past could have led him to where he is now.
When first seeing Rob and Amir onscreen together, they are almost polar opposites. Amir wants no part of Rob and even seems embarrassed to be in public with him. When Amir begins to learn more about Rob’s past, a unique bond forms between the two of them. What were such contrasting characters at the beginning of the film, turned into such a remarkable friendship by the end of it.
The development of these two characters wouldn’t have been nearly as effective with subpar performances. That was no problem however, as Nicholas Cage and Alex Wolff achieved the highest level of acting possible in Pig, having such amazing chemistry for two characters that were so unlikely to be paired together. I cannot understate the effectiveness of their performances here, as both deserve to be highlighted in the “best of the year” conversations. With Cage’s subdued dialogue and Wolff’s haughty, humorous character, the duo spawned a magnetic and electric on-screen combination.
I must also repeat that this was director Michael Sarnoski’s DIRECTORIAL DEBUT. For this being his first film, his work blows my mind. There are dialogue sequences that go on for minutes at a time, completely in one shot. These conversations were some of the most powerful in the film, as full attention was placed on the message that the character was presenting. Along with that, a great sense of unease was earned by utilizing handheld, “shaky cam” cinematography. This method was seen multiple times throughout the movie, just adding to the visual storytelling.
I am not usually one to get emotional from movies, but seriously… Pig almost made me cry. The themes explored are so surreal, thought-provoking, and profound; reminding the audience of what is important in life. What I really took away from this film is that you’re not really fulfilling your purpose in life if you aren’t doing what you love. This is such a deep message and I think that it can be applied to almost all people. Along with that, it just reminded me that all life is precious. Whether that is a person, or a dog, or as in this case, Rob’s pig… life is wholly valuable. In Pig, Rob stated, “I don’t need my pig to find truffles… I love her”. This movie just really made me appreciate all of the people surrounding me in life and encouraged me to give them all a big hug.
One specific moment in Pig that completely encompasses the themes of the film was when Rob voiced,
“Everyday you wake up and there’ll be less of you. You live your life for them and they don’t even see you. You don’t even see yourself. We don’t get a lot of things to really care about.”
I can honestly say that I have no negative critiques of Pig. The splitting of the film into three parts wasn’t really effective to me, but I wouldn’t consider that element to be bad, just more of an unnecessary addition to the movie.
The only other thing that I will mention is that you should definitely not go into Pig expecting a John Wick-esque film. You will be immensely disappointed if you go in with that mindset, as this is not an action-packed adventure in the slightest.
Well… The Green Knight was my top film of 2021 for almost a whole week, but now Pig has taken the mantle. I was constantly intrigued as to where the story was going and felt genuine emotions during a film for the first time in ages.
Nicholas Cage and Alex Wolff stole the show as the adverse tandem, with organic chemistry that could not be replicated by anyone else.
I do have to preface that Pig seriously made me sad and for a movie about a man and his pig… that is genuinely impressive. As long as you prepare yourself for a complex, stimulating, and saddening journey I have no doubt that you will enjoy this movie. This film really cuts deep and asks the audience to appreciate what life has given them.
All I can say now is PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give Pig a chance! It is only $6.99 to rent digitally and that is a substantially low price to pay to see this masterpiece. WATCH IT!
Rating: 10 out of 10 on the scale of awesomeness!
Thank you so much for reading my review of Pig! Let me know what you thought of the film in the comments. And as always…
CINEMA LOVERS UNITE!