Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Michael Sarnoski
Writer: Michael Sarnoski, story by Michael Sarnoski, Vanessa Block
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin, Nina Belforte, Cassandra Violet, Julia Bray, Elijah Ungvary
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 8/2/21
Opens: August 3, 2021 (streaming)
If you were tempted to see this film thinking that it’s about the title character, you might be disappointed. “Pig,” despite enjoying lavish attention and great respect by her human companion, does not have much of a role, save for a few attempts to talk Latin, which is indigenous to porkers. But she is nice looking; colorful, not the typical white pig you will find suffering hell in any one of America’s pig farms and processing plants. Even Gunda had a bigger role in Viktor Kosakovskiy’s documentary.
But you say, “No problem?” That you really went to writer-director Michael Sarnoski’s picture to enjoy Nicolas Cage’s magnificent performance as Robin Feld? There’s a reason that Cage is great, aside from the fact that he is such a world-class actor. Sarnoski’s script gives him the chance to show emotions all the way from A to R if not to Z. Sarnoski, whose “Olympia” is about a farm girl who wants more than to be a farm girl (the opposite, if you will, from Nic Cage’s Rob, who goes from his life in the big city to what he might consider a farm), has an easy job with his first full-length film given Cage’s doubtless ability to direct his own performance.
Rob is so traumatized by the loss of his wife Lori years back that he shed his fame as a master chef to retreat to a log cabin that not even Thoreau would go near. He lives, albeit not intimately, with Pig who he uses to search the woods for truffles. He sells the truffles to Amir (Alex Wolff), who drives by from downtown Portland every Thursday to pick up the week’s catch to deliver to tony restaurants. Later Rob will admit that he could gather truffles without his companion but lives with her to avoid loneliness, which may be why he is devastated when a couple of hoodlums break into the shack and kidnap her. Anyone who dotes on such a pet (pigs are smarter than dogs) would be as heartbroken.
There follow a series of strange events that would make “Pig” a super indie; really indie-ish, that is. In search of Pig, he thumbs a ride with Amir, patronizes an illegal fight club of restaurant employees presumably to find out the pig’s location and getting the crap beaten out of him without resisting. He dines, bloody face and unkempt beard to the restaurant Eurydice, where he criticizes a former employee chef (David Knell), for opening a contemporary, successful establishment rather than the pub that he had dreamed of owning. Ultimately he faces the perpetrator who admits to ordering the kidnapping and promises $25,000 if Rob would walk away.
This is not the revenge fantasy that some moviegoers might expect seeing the Nicolas Cage, who in other pics was set on fire and endured flipped cars, is the principal performer, but it is rather a study of regret. That’s what most of us who are unfortunately equipped with enough brains to examine our lives, which is supposedly what makes life living, one which leads caused Rob to throw off his success as a restaurateur and to live in a cabin with his one endearing companion. When you here Amir’s father calling his son a mediocrity, you’ve got to have empathy for Amir as well as for Rob, the former a man who could never become the success enjoyed by his dad Darius (Adam Arkin). At least he has a bond with Rob, with Alex Wolff pairing off nicely as straight man in this odd couple, in a picture that’s filmed on location near Mount Hood which is East of Portland.
Next time a maître d’ asks you to leave his restaurant because you’re not wearing a tie, show him a photo of Rob Feld in one of Portland’s trendy establishments, bloody face, scruff beard, shaggy clothes, yet having a conversation with a chef who is deeply affected.
92 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B+
Acting – A
Technical – B+
Overall – B+