Approximately nine minutes into Pig, Nicolas Cage speaks his first lines of dialogue. His character, the bedraggled truffle hunter Robin, has been on screen for the entire film. But he has remained silent as he tramps through the Oregon forest, even refusing to talk when his contact Amir (Alex Wolff), who drove to Robin’s sparse cabin in yellow Lamborghini, arrived to purchase truffles.
Robin only speaks after listening to a few seconds of audiotape. After fumbling to put a cassette into a boom box, Robin presses play and listens. He hears a guitar tuning and a woman laughing, playfully teasing an unheard lover.
Robin hits stop on the boom box. And then he just sits. No contortions to his face. No twisting and shouting. He just sits, until his loyal pig saddles up beside him. And with remarkable warmth and calm, Robin assures us, “I’m okay.”
At that moment, it becomes clear that writer and director Michael Sarnoski has something in mind for the movie that differs from the easy comparisons suggested by its plot summary. Pig follows Robin’s journey to rescue his kidnapped truffle pig, a mission that leads him deep into the underground of Portland and forces him to face his painful past. That summary invites similarities to everything from the excellent Italian documentary The Truffle Hunters to the action series John Wick to Cage’s gonzo revenge flick Mandy.
But Pig is none of those things, in the most surprising ways. As those opening minutes indicate, the movie is tender and thoughtful, willing to sit quietly in the character’s suffering and contentment.