Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Pig: Nic Cage Cooks Truffles

Seattle has coffee and Oregon has truffles, but don’t call them white truffles. Oregon truffles are their own thing. Robert Feld has a pig with a nose for finding them. She is so good at sniffing out the delicacy, she gets pignapped. Feld deliberately turned his back on human society, but he dives back into the seamy Kitchen Confidential-side of Portland’s fine dining scene to find her in Michael Sarnoski’s Pig, which opens this Friday in theaters.

Feld is shaggy looking, but gentle in demeanor, at least when left to his own devices. He was once culinary figure of great local renown, but he now ekes out all the living he needs selling truffles to Amir, a young fine-food dealer trying to follow his father’s footsteps. When junkies steal Feld’s pig at the behest of a mystery villain, Amir gets to be his driver and wingman. It turns out the grizzled hermit knows more of the city’s dirty restaurant secrets than he does.

has been likened to a “John Wick with a pig,” but it is far different tonally and stylistically. Like Oregon truffles, Pig is its own thing, in a refreshingly distinctive way. In place of action set pieces, Sarnoski explores the ways in which foods are tied to memory and emotional responses. It all builds to a third act climax that was definitely a bit of a gamble, but Sarnoski and his small cast pull it off nicely.

As Feld, Nic Cage looks like a wild man, but he is in nearly-silent mode this time around. He still broods harder than ever and goes all in during scenes depicting physical extremes. However, Cage forgoes the raging and snorting we have come to expect from him, in favor of quiet sheer power-emoting. This is restrained work from the master of mayhem, but Cage is genuinely magnetic on-screen.

Likewise, Alex Wolff does some of the best work we’ve yet seen from him as Amir. The character turns out to be more complex and conflicted than he initially appears, but Wolff is surprisingly compelling in the way he navigates that arc. It is not exactly buddy chemistry, but he and Cage definitely work well together.

should not be confused with PIIGS, a movie we ardently wish to see produced, in which Cage would play an angry bond-trader out for vengeance against Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, for their ruinous fiscal policies. Regardless, Pig represents vintage Cage and an impressive feature debut from Sarnoski. His patience to let scenes unfold in their own proper time is laudable, as is the atmospheric late-night look cinematographer Patrick Scola gives the film. It is also the redemption Oregonian cinema still needed after Calvin Reeder's unwatchable The Oregonian. Highly recommended for fans of Cage, truffles, and culinary noir, Pig opens this Friday (7/16) in theaters.