It is hard to believe that Nicolas Cage was once an A-list movie star. In the past decade, he has starred in a good number of direct-to-VOD movies and genre flicks, many of which barely have made a burble on the critical landscape. Some, such as Mandy (2018) and Color Out of Space (2019), have been well-received but are a far cry from the $100 million blockbusters in which the man used to star. Yet, Cage still works regularly, putting out numerous films each year. You’ve just likely never heard of them.

At first blush, Pig looks like yet another late-era Cage headscratcher, done on the quick with no hope of returning its star back into the realm where he was making movies with Spike Jonze and Martin Scorsese. Here he plays Rob, a recluse who lives in the Oregon woods with a pet pig, hunting for truffles that he sells to a fast-talking Portland restauranteur, Amir (Alex Wolff). Not long after the movie begins, Rob’s prized pig is stolen, forcing him out of his hermitage and into the big, bad city for payback.

Yet, Pig is not Taken. It isn’t John Wick, either. Instead, writer-director Michael Sarnoski creates a mostly insular journey about loss and grieving. When Rob conscripts Amir to cart him around the city in a flashy yellow Camaro, it does seem like he’s about to bust some heads. And if you’ve seen the trailer or stills from Pig, you will see a hirsute Cage pissed off and bloodied. But there is almost no violence and much of the film involves Rob, and a few other characters, coming to terms with loss and legacy.

It isn’t revealing much to say that Rob was once a much-vaunted celebrity chef who turned his back on the industry (and society) when his wife passed away. As he goes from one acclaimed restaurant to another in Portland, chefs and servers recognize Rob and grovel. But this isn’t one of those Jay-Z comes out of retirement deals. Rob is on the hunt for his pig, supposedly the stand-in for his wife, and pretty much knows just where to find her.

Sarnoski knows the food scene here in Portland, and while Pig does skewer the way we celebrate certain chefs and haute cuisine, this film does not share any tonal similarities with the loathsome “Portlandia.” Rather, Pig is a quiet film about a man finally facing down the past. As for how Cage gets bloodied, let’s just say that is one of the most bizarre misstep Sarnoski makes in an otherwise well-made film.

As ridiculous as it all sounds, Pig works because Cage fully binds himself to the role of Rob. Let’s not forget that this is the man who won an Oscar for playing an alcoholic who drinks himself to death. He certainly has the chops (I couldn’t resist). Even when the script veers towards the ridiculous in places, Cage is so committed to the role that it is impossible to totally write Pig off. It’s time for Cage to come back from the wilderness and take on roles like Rob, ones that made him one of the best working actors in the business.

Summary
It’s time for Cage to come back from the wilderness and take on roles like this, ones that once made him one of the best working actors in the business.
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