Pig ★★★★

It´s been a while since a Nicholas Cage film could be described as one of the most moving movies of the year. Don´t be fooled by the silly-sounding premise. “Pig” is a layered, sensitive, and impactful meditation on loss, grief, loneliness, love, passion, memory, purpose, and human connection.

Director Michael Sarnoski plays with the audience by letting us believe that we are watching a revenge film when it actually is an anti-revenge film. The foreboding atmosphere and genre expectations make us wait for a violent outburst that never comes, just like the presence of Nicholas Cage makes us wait for a typical Cage freak-out that never comes. There is a deep sadness instead of violence, and empathy and understanding instead of fights. “Pig” demonstrates that confronting your past and reaching out to your fellow human beings can be just as much of a difficult task than fighting your way through hordes of enemies. And just as compelling to watch.

Nicholas Cage is so good here. His performance is restrained and understated but full of emotional power. So natural, vulnerable, and heart-wrenching. It´s definitely up there with his best dramatic work. I also have to praise Alex Wolff, who proves that his performance in “Hereditary” wasn´t just a fluke. Other highlights include the beautiful cinematography, wonderful score, deliberate pacing, and excellent worldbuilding. The strange little parallel world of Portland´s culinary scene is definitely a fascinating setting. I mean, what´s up with the underground fight club?

For a debut film, “Pig” is surprisingly confident in its tone, aesthetic, and narrative. Sarnoski shows a lot of promise, and I will closely follow his career. He deserves all the praise for directing such a contemplative, immersive, tender, and poignant little gem about healing yourself and finding your inner peace in a harsh, indifferent universe. Highly recommended.

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