In PIG (2021), a truffle hunter living alone in the Pacific Northwest wilderness must go to Portland after his foraging pig is kidnapped. The result for me was a lot of good stuff that just didn’t come together as a whole. Let me explain.
Rob (Nicholas Cage) lives a hermit life in a cabin in the woods outside Portland with his beloved pig, which he trained to sniff out truffle mushrooms. These mushrooms are highly prized by high-end restaurants and therefore fetch a terrific price. Unfortunately, this attracts the interest of kidnappers out to make a buck on the pig and puts Rob on a quest to Portland to get her back.
The setup is terrific stuff. The mushroom harvesting industry in the wilderness, the hardcore world of restaurant workers, the underlying savagery among powerful chefs, and a relentless quest to get a beloved pig back where she belongs. And of course Nicholas Cage, whom (as it’s Nicholas Cage) we expect to slaughter his way through Portland but instead delivers a great understated, brooding performance, defeating his opponents psychologically by hitting them where they’re weakest.
The only problem is after the first act, the seams start to fray. Rob’s search is a spiritual journey to get past the grief that drove him into the wilderness, but the supporting pieces that get us there started to feel disjointed, heavy handed, and even contrived, notably Rob’s young supplier who is helping him, and the supplier’s father. Everyone is either brooding, crying, or angry at the edge of violence in a gloomy Portland, and it just didn’t feel natural for me.
So overall, PIG was okay for me but lacked an organic quality to the storytelling that could have made it great. Reviewers and audiences generally disagree with my take, liking the film quite a bit, and that’s great. Like I said, there is a lot to like here.