Edinburgh Film Festival review: Pig

The EIFF’s opening film is a moving meditation on loss, driven by a haunted performance by Nicolas Cage, writes Alistair Harkness

Nicolas Cage in Pig, the EIFF's 2021 opening film.
Nicolas Cage in Pig, the EIFF's 2021 opening film.

Pig ****

If Nicolas Cage’s latter-day roles can be broadly categorised as “wage Cage” (the stuff he does for money) or “rage Cage” (the crazy performances his fans love), his latest film Pig might necessitate a new classification: “sage Cage”. As a forest-dwelling hermit on a mission to track down his recently stolen truffle pig, he’s certainly on more meditative form than one might expect given the film’s revenge movie set-up. That set-up, though, is also a superlative bit of bait-and-switch storytelling on the part of debut writer/director Michael Sarnoski.

Teasing us with the promise of a John Wick-style action thriller, he delivers something richer and stranger: a moving meditation on loss that takes in gastronomic cooking, underground fight clubs and the gangster-style economics driving Portland’s hipster food-service industry. Barely saying a word for the first ten minutes, Cage’s Robin lives a life of self-imposed exile, his only meaningful relationship with his beloved pig, his only real connection with civilisation through Amir (Alex Wolff), the ambitious young food broker who sells Robin’s truffles to local restaurants. It’s to Amir that Robin is forced to turn when his pig is violently snatched.

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What follows is part quasi-detective movie, part redemption saga, part coming-of-age film as Amir bears witness to the bloodied, broken, near mythical Robin’s re-emergence on Portland’s insular food scene, the absurdity of which is transcended by Sarnoski’s mastery of tone and Cage’s haunted, pressure-cooker-like performance.

Pig opens Edinburgh International Film Festival on 18 August and goes on general release from Friday, www.edfilmfest.org.uk

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