Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff
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Nicolas Cage’s central performance is mesmerising, and as subtle as it is powerful.
This is a real one-off, and marvellously non-generic. Nicolas Cage’s central performance is mesmerising, and as subtle as it is powerful. He plays Rob, a slightly portly and very weather-beaten truffle hunter who lives in a hut in the middle of nowhere in rural Oregon. The hut is commensurately decrepit, and so is his car. Cage’s appearance here is of the kind that people tend to describe as barely recognisable – but no one could mistake those intensely piercing eyes.
Early in the piece, Rob’s beloved truffle pig is stolen, and Rob resolves – no matter what it takes – to get her back. He is aided in this quest by Amir (Alex Wolff), a young man in the truffle resale business. The extent to which they connect, or don’t, is one of the key hooks here. If any of this sounds simple or one-dimensional, don’t be deterred: it’s anything but.
The ‘action’ – this is a film in which plot is secondary to character and motive – soon moves to the city of Portland, where Rob used to have a very different life and a highly successful career. As time goes on, he becomes somewhat less taciturn and laconic, and even more intriguing. A subsequent highlight is an extraordinary conversation in a restaurant…
Pig is very naturalistic and believable, and mercifully devoid of cop-outs and predictable tropes. The use of music and sound effects is sparing but imaginative. Among other things, it’s a story about culture clashes and dichotomies: the old and the new, rural and urban, the down-to-earth and the pretentious… But it’s also about emotions, crushingly deep ones. And above all, it’s really engrossing.