Pig ★★★★★

Nicolas Cage #54

We don’t get a lot of things to care about.

Is the line that has lived rent free in my head since I watched Michael Swarnoski’s debut feature film. Pig is Nicolas Cage at his most subdued and most utterly transfixing in years, potentially his most electric showing of his career rounded out with grizzled grunts and weary glares. Robin Feld is as lived in a character as we have known in cinema and Cage makes him unforgettable.

In the timeless films of yesteryear such as It’s A Wonderful Life or even the many renditions of A Christmas Carol (yes both holiday-related films), the meaning of the holiday coalesces into the very real vestige that we as every-day people matter. Our actions affect the others in our lives exponentially and we can never quite see or fully understand the lengths to which these are exacerbated.

An interaction with a sellout chef wipes away the years of substituting passion with greed, a request for a homemade pastry mends another relationship, and a gourmet dinner summons tears and heartbreak.

Robin Feld’s reputation is one that leave many trembling in its wake and even though he has affected so many people by his once-achieved fame, he has actually changed people in the more sincere and intimate ways life can provide. His current situation—that of being a recluse and befriending a truffle-hunting pig—is much more a set-up for the unique metaphor the film is reaching for than as a simple plot point. Food is a passion and surrounds all our celebrations. It is also something we turn to for comfort in times of grief. The truffle is a unique jewel of the cooking world; highly sought after for its place on our plates, yet hides underground. Yes, Pig subverts our violently-tuned brains to expect a manic Cage who thrashes everyone in his path in order to get his best friend back, but more than this, the film is simmering a juicy metaphor of cherishing life in which makes grief palatable.

For what is grief without the attachment to care?

The film still ends cathartically, but defying how we have gotten there in other revenge flicks like John Wick or Mandy. As Robin Feld returns home, he throws on a tape of his former lover singing a rendition of “Happy Birthday”; a celebration of life. A non-quotidian event. One of the small things we are able to generally care about and remind us of our mortality, as Robin more than likely yearns for her. Just like with the specific instance of good eats, life is a series of undernotes waiting to be appreciated. We just need to find it in ourselves to notice.

I am left reeling from this film still, days after watching, but I left to post this today—the day that starts my 29th year—because it feels all too fitting. I will be stumping for Cage’s Oscar nomination, and will be looking for more great stuff from Alex Wolff.

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