The Pig is Out of the Cage


By: Isaac P. Ale
December 30, 2021

pig Pig [2021]

Film

"We don't get a lot of things to really care about"

What a line.

Initially when I saw the marketing for Pig back in what, the beginning of the year or so, I just assumed it was another John Wick-esque pet revenge story. This time with Nicolas Cage rampaging through Portland to find his missing truffle pig.

What we got instead from the feature film directorial debut of Michael Sarnoski is a finely tuned, well-oiled, emotional machine of a film. One that has resonated with me on multiple levels, some I probably don't even have the emotional intelligence to understand quite yet.

I mean, this movie is fucking fantastic.

I'd prefer it if you watched it before reading this just so you can go in with a fresh mind and then we can expound on some ideas here. So for that sake:

Spoilers aplenty



Pig is a 2021 drama/mystery/thriller that takes place in Oregon where a mysterious figure, Rob, played perfectly by Nicolas Cage, has his truffle pig stolen from him. He then goes searching for it through Portland with his business partner of sorts Amir, also played perfectly by Alex Wolff.

Now what makes this movie kick so much ass??

First and foremost, the intricate balance of the cast delivering powerhouse performances, career best performances- and the stimulating yet ambiguous (in a good way) script.

Nicolas Cage is at the top of the mountain here, people. This is seriously the best role he's done in decades. He's restrained and on point, focused and poignant. Every delivery he has exudes a level of nuance to it that can't really be quantified.

There's a scene of Rob and Amir in a fancy Portland restaurant, the Eurydice, and they're having a discussion with the head chef, chef Finway (David Knell), as to the whereabouts of the truffle pig. What ensues is some of the best line delivery Cage has had in his well esteemed career.

It's heartbreaking, it's touching, it's unbelievable. I picked my jaw up off the floor after it and wiped the tears from my eyes simultaneously. Within this discussion he gives us the crème de la crème quote from the film:

"We don't get a lot of things to really care about"

This is where the beautiful writing comes into play as well. Everything Rob is saying is directed at Chef Finway in the context of why he didn't start the English Pub he'd always dreamed of. Instead, he opened this restaurant where as Rob puts it, nobody even cares about him. All these lines are beautifully ambiguous and are draped in infinite applications. Sure in the current moment it applies to Finway, his customers couldn't care less about him but he tries so so hard to deliver extraordinary dishes in new ways to impress the Portland populus.

He's trying to make a name for himself, much like Amir. But there's no emotional connection between the task at hand, the hand doing it, and the hand consuming it. There's nothing.

So why do it??

Rob, and Cage for that matter, has so many of these lines peppered throughout the film honestly I can't wait to watch it again and take it a different route and interpret it differently. The rewatch value of the film is all in the emotional context pulled out of Cage's otherwordly performance and the fantastic script Sarnoski has put together.

pig3 Pig [2021]

Alex Wolff also puts on one of his best performances in his young and budding career. Much like his character Amir who is trying to break into the truffle trading scene, Wolff has been an actor for quite some time but is starting to break out with some recent roles such as Hereditary, Old, and here in Pig.

The character arc of Amir is one of the quintissential pieces of the film and Wolff puts on a show as the premature, gaudy, ambitious kid (young-adult?). He transitions from this young gun that is attempting to have this look and persona as a high class truffle business man with a ridiculous Camaro, fancy watch, and faux knowledge of everything high brow. Throughout the film you can hear the radio in his car playing the history of classical music so he can attempt to elevate his sales game and connect with the filthy rich crowd that he aspires to join.

But we also learn more about his family and most importantly his father Darius (Adam Arkin) who is, what we can surmise, a ruthless truffle salesman himself. We also learn about his mother who Amir says took her own life a few years prior but we then see is still alive, kept alive through life support machines.

A lot of the themes of the film revolve around a character's acceptance of certain situations. Rob hasn't yet accepted the death of his beloved wife, he uses the truffle pig as a sort of emotional crutch. Whereas Amir has been living with the acceptance that his mother has passed away, when in fact she is still alive. As they both navigate through how they can come to terms with the various aspects of their lives the interactions between Rob and Amir really show just how incredible Cage and Wolff are in these characters.

Cage, as mentioned before, is reserved and calmly on point, whereas Wolff is a more emotional wildcard and eager to shout, talk, scratch and claw to the top. It's a very "yin and yang" combination of performances and the on screen product is fire because of it.

I'm trying really hard to also be ambiguous about certain things in the film because, not sure if you caught this or not, but I loved watching it. I really don't wanna spoil anything or even dive too much into what I got from it, emotionally and spiritually. Because this type of movie really has a certain quality about it where everytime you watch it, depending on what you're going through or who you are, you're going to get something out of it that you can't really explain to others. And if you try then they might try to get that out of the film too, and it just doesn't work that way.

Basically, I'm gonna watch this movie another 40 times or so and love it more and more every time.

Also the truffle pig is just the cutest thing.

Froth

Now look.

I totally get that I commonly plug this brewery and everything but I'll tell you what. Their beer is great so why not drink it all the time???

The brewery I'm referring to is Fremont Brewing and the choice this time was actually one of their limited edition collaboration beers. This one called Empathy. Action. Love. Repeat.

I found it extremely appropriate given the emotional magnitude of Pig, in name only if anything, and it was also appropriate because well, it was delicious.

In collaboration with Crowns and Hops Brewing Company, this is a Hazy Double IPA that really packs a flavorful punch. It has a beautiful orange hazy color to it, and you can smell it immediately upon pour that its gonna taste great. Lots of great citrus flavors and the bitterness from the variety of hops used in it all play off of eachother really well.

Outside of the taste of the beer the parties involved have some great initiatives that the beer is a vehicle for promoting. First and foremost Crowns and Hops Brewing Company themselves have some great philanthropic ventures that they support that you can check out. Along with Crowns and Hops, Fremont Brewing in their collab on this beer support the Black is Beautiful campaign which is geared towards using the brewing and beer drinking space to highlight injustices people of color face on a daily basis. Additionally the collab also supports the Brews for New Avenues effort which focuses on preventing and solving youth homelessness.

Proceeds from the Empathy. Action. Love. Repeat. beer are donated to these efforts so its a win win for anyone interested in trying this out! I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a nice hazy IPA, especially a double!

Empathy. Action. Love. Repeat.
Fremont Brewing & Crowns and Hops Brewing Company
Hazy Double IPA - American | 8.2% ABV
@crownsandhops
@fremontbrewing

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