The best films are ones that surprise you with their brilliance. Pig is special. It features an old lion returning to form and a wicked new talent born into the public consciousness. I will remember where I was and how I felt upon seeing this for the first time.
Go into this movie knowing nothing. I’d seen no trailers, no reviews. Only word of mouth saying it was Cage’s best performance in years and a brief plot description. None of that spoils anything. This movie is not what it appears. I will do my best not to give anything away.
The story unfolds masterfully, and all the emotions that make cinema worth it are here — redemption, grief, hate, fear, respect, revulsion, rage. A few weeks ago I saw Black Widow and mentioned that for all the spectacle, I didn’t really FEEL anything. This film is brewed in quiet, brooding silence, but you will most certainly feel many things.
Nicolas Cage’s lauded performance is well deserved; it not only lives up to the hype but, IMO, soars beyond it. I’ve loved him since Con Air but lost touch as his role choices seemed to get more and more erratic. He was no longer an Oscar winner exploring his range, he was the weird guy who built a small marble pyramid to be buried in. The last thing I saw him in was Oliver Stone’s limpdick Snowden biopic in 2016.
It’s easy to forget how technically “good” Cage is as an actor. He rarely speaks for nearly the first third of the movie but you hardly realize it. Then, his character Rob gives a short monologue that is one of the most beautiful and simplistic pieces of writing I’ve heard in years. It takes place in a spotless kitchen, and Cage’s delivers it with such moon-eyed resignation and slow-burning sadness that I will never forget it. This moment is followed by more and more— he tells a child about a tree, both emasculates and encourages an old colleague in a few bladed sentences, stoically strides toward his wants and needs as his face gets bloodier and bloodier. The final shot of the film is one of the best, most emotionally-arresting endings I’ve ever seen. I will say it includes a stripped down cover of a well known 80s rock song and in the context of the film, the whole thing is magnificently devastating. I recalled the first short film Cage was in — it was a one man show about a soldier I think, won him an acting award at a film festival. I never saw more than one shot where a pain-wracked Cage removes a bloody bandage from his hand. Anyway, the role of Rob is very much a full circle for him in that way.