Films that undermine expectations in strategic ways are frequently a lot of fun, especially when audience members are able to feel that little bit superior for being able to embrace the subversions rather than feeling cheated. However, it is truly impressive when those subversions are well-crafted and smart, and it is even more impressive when such subversions seem to be the very foundation of the film. This is the case with Pig, the feature film directorial debut by filmmaker Michael Sarnoski. The animal the film is named after is a prized truffle foraging pig, who lives with its owner Robin ‘Rob’ Feld (Nicolas Cage) deep in the Oregon forest, USA. Rob seems content to enjoy a life of solitude and seclusion, living off the grid and hunting for truffles that he sells to Amir (Alex Wolff), an aspirational luxury ingredient dealer who sells to high-end restaurants in Portland. However, Rob’s life of simplicity and contentment is violated by a pair of thieves who one night break into his shack, assault him and steal his much-prized pig. Taking a reluctant Amir along with him, to get his pig back, Rob soon finds himself back in the city and the world of hospitality and cuisine where he was once a big shot. And what unravels is not a bloody and comedic tale of revenge and retribution, despite continually hinting that it might be, but instead a strange journey through a hyper-real world of the fine dining industry where Rob takes on an almost mythical role that is part Prodigal Son, part Odysseus returning home and part saint.
Read and listen to the rest of this review at ABC Radio Melbourne