‘Pig’ review: An intense Nicolas Cage tries to recover his swine

‘Pig’ review: An intense Nicolas Cage tries to recover his swine

pig

Running time: 92 minutes. Rated R (language and some violence). In theaters.

Like George Clooney before him — whose real-life hog apparently came between him and his former girlfriends — Nicolas Cage really, really loves his pig. 

In the movie “Pig,” the 57-year-old actor whose career has taken a turn for the weird, plays a shaggy, grizzled truffle farmer named Rob in the Pacific Northwest who has a deep affection for his prized swine.

But don’t worry. “I don’t f–k my pig,” he assures us. 

Director Michael Sarnoski’s undeniably odd, but surprisingly touching drama starts with pignappers stealing his furry girl in the dead of night. This is actually a common crime in the pastoral-but-cutthroat truffle world. A truffle can sell for thousands of dollars, and dogs and porkers with the ability to sniff them out in the forest are worth many times that. Rivals will brazenly take them.

Cage, who can be an alternately frightening and funny actor, goes on a ruthless hunt to bring home the bacon. Along for the ride is his truffle dealer, Amir (Alex Wolff), who’s not only new to his profession but very green when it comes to life. They forge an endearing road-trip chemistry.

And we really venture to a lot of places. You come in expecting a thriller in which we never leave the woods, like “Deliverance” or Angelina Jolie’s recent movie “Those Who Wish Me Dead.” Right away that expectation is shaken up. Rob goes to an underground fight club in an abandoned hotel and a Michelin-starred restaurant, where the film’s most engrossing scene takes place.

There we learn, quickly and succinctly, that Rob has lived previous lives other than being a long-haired Luddite in a cabin in the woods. There are complex, deeper reasons why he wants his pig returned. 

Throughout the movie, Cage rarely raises his voice above a whisper and he gives Rob, who never changes his mud and blood-spattered clothes, a zen focus. He just wants his damn pig back. 

It’s my favorite Cage performance in some time, after overly bizarre turns in recent years as a murderous parent in “Mom and Dad” and an inmate on a mission in the Japanese film “Prisoners of the Ghostland.” 

When he goes back to basics, it’s as rich and juicy as a delicious ham steak.

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