There is a scene in Pig that I cannot get out of my head. In the scene, Rob, masterfully portrayed by Nicholas Cage, sits at a table in a trendy restaurant. A beautifully prepared dish is brought out to the table. A glass cover, bearing a resemblance to an upside down fishbowl, sits atop the plate with smoke swirling inside. When the cover is removed and the smoke clears, the dish emerges. It looks like a single egg, cooked over-easy, but without the yoke and with a crunchier consistency. Rob takes his thumb and presses it into the delicate dish before promptly asking to speak to the head chef, Derrick, with whom he is familiar.
Rob and Derrick have a tense exchange. Throughout the interaction, Rob deconstructs Derrick’s approach to running a restaurant and the decisions that led him to the present moment. But, though the dialogue is focused on Derrick, there is a metanarrative that seeks to deconstruct our society writ large. It is during this scene that Rob says the most impactful line of the entire film. It’s a line that should give any reflective viewer pause.
True, Pig is a film about a stolen truffle pig. But it’s about much more than a pig. Comparisons to John Wick are both obvious and a red herring. Though both Pig and John Wick have excellent cinematography and both have plots that revolve around a man seeking recourse after having his animal companion kidnapped, they are very different films. John Wick is an action film, whereas Pig is a existential drama. Nicholas Cage’s performance captivates the viewer both visually through his character’s physical presence and vocally through his tone of voice and minimalistic dialogue. He truly excels at embodying the soul of a disenchanted chef.
Rich in symbolism, especially in the restaurant scene described above, Pig delivers a message about authenticity in an age of superficiality. It does so without the excessive explanation that is endemic to many of today’s films, but rather through compelling visual storytelling. Although we do find out bits and pieces about the main character throughout the film, much is left to the imagination, as it should be. Films with plots that avoid giving an inordinate amount of detail have a higher likelihood of becoming transcendent. Pig achieves this feat and will likely serve as a guidepost for filmmakers seeking to explore existential themes in their own films.
Pig is playing in theaters now. I first watched Pig at The Loft Cinema, an independent movie theater in Tucson, Arizona. I’d recommend watching this film at a local, independent movie theater. After all, we don’t get a lot of things to really care about. Good cinema at a quality art-house theater is one of those rare things that deserve to be appreciated.