Review: Nicolas Cage revisits what he left behind in 'Pig'

The enigmatic actor turns in a quietly soulful performance in this meditative and frequently funny drama.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Nicolas Cage is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're gonna get. 

Sometimes (most of the time) you get Cage unhinged, appearing in cheap-o films well-below his talent level, more kindling for the peculiar fire that the Oscar winner's career has become. 

Nicolas Cage in "Pig."

But he retains the ability to surprise, to stoke the flame that still burns inside his belly, and that's what happens in "Pig," an oddly meditative rumination on love, loss, art and purpose. 

It starts out like a standard issue revenge tale: Cage plays Rob, a bearded loner who lives in a cabin in the woods outside Portland, Oregon, with his truffle hunting pig. When his pig is kidnapped (pignapped?), Cage ventures out to get him back. Cue the "John Wick"-style mayhem. 

But co-writer and director Michael Sarnoski, making his feature debut, has much more on his mind. Along with his reluctant business partner Amir (Alex Wolff), Rob returns to the city he left behind, where he was a God-level chef whose very name still turns heads and opens doors. Cage plays Rob like a merciful, omnipotent deity, back on Earth after a journey into the cosmos, and there's a quiet soulfulness in his eyes that underscores the depth of his character and the life he willfully left behind. A scene where he quietly cuts through the soul of a hoity-toity chef (an excellent David Knell) in an elegant restaurant is among the year's very best. 

"Pig" has the ability to be both laugh-out-loud outrageous and elegantly understated, so it's a perfect match for modern day Cage. He brings a mournfulness to his character that feels lived in, the product of decisions he made to burn down a life he didn't want. There may be more Cage in Rob, and vice-versa, than we know.




Rated R: for language and some violence

Running time: 92 minutes

In theaters