By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Playing at select theatres in Canada beginning July 16, 2021
Edmonton, Metro Cinema
Vancouver, Rio Theatre
Waterloo, Princess Twin
Hamilton, Playhouse Cinema
Ottawa, Mayfair Theatre
Saskatoon, Roxy Theatre
Regina, Rainbow Golden Mile
Montréal, Cinema Du Parc
I can’t help but think of the song “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” by Pink Floyd after watching the film Pig. The passing similarities in what the narrative arc means between the concept album and the movie are almost similar.
Nicolas Cage played many types of characters over the years and not all of them are as multi-faceted as Robin, a once famous chef in the Portland food scene, but now some hermit. There’s no easy way to categorize him but as a B-Movie God (credit to No Film School for giving him this title). His latest work has a bit of connective tissue with past works he’s starred in, namely Mandy and Colour Out of Space. The only difference is that we don’t see him go John Wick on the person who kidnaps his beloved swine and nor do we witness his sanity going down the pits. Plus, the small bits of unintentional humour is a sweet touch.
Robin has nothing to lose as he ventures back into civilization to find his beloved pet truffle pig. Although he uses the “it” pronoun to describe his connection with the animal early on, he eventually reveals the gender and why he feels so close to her. This swine’s talent to dig up the beloved diamond of the kitchen is second to none and can’t be replaced. Its revered use in cuisine isn’t fully examined in this film, and for those who don’t understand why the fungi is so beloved is because its earthy texture and hearty aroma enhances a lot of dishes. We find it used in pasta, some egg dishes and I dare say even wonton soups.
Those who love adding this ‘shroom to their morning meals and dinner must be filthy rich as consuming them regularly costs an arm and a leg. That’s the motive for the person who paid some misanthropes to steal the pig. This individual wants to find them for himself rather than deal with the harvesters, the buyers (middlemen) and the restaurants.
Honestly, I’d pay more to get the European harvested ‘shroom. Those grown in the Pacific Northwest aren’t quite the same, and hence my question to Michael Sarnoski and Vanessa Block, writers of this film (the former being the director), why set this movie in Portland? The Pacific Northwest has two big hubs for foodies and I’ve been to both (pre-pandemic) to sample from a few top restaurants. Seattle is the other world and yes, I’ve bought locally grown truffles from Pike Place Market to bring home.
This movie only hints at how each operation supports or deals with each other by the Fight Club, which nobody knows about. While this idea is most likely an exaggeration, I can go with it as I was hoping to see Cage dish out some anger because of the bond he has with his beloved animal is tight.
He’ll even take the punches for her. Sadly, he’s doesn’t know what’s going on now compared to fifteen years ago. Part of this film delightfully sees him trying to reconnect with everything he’s lost. This film is not a revenge driven thriller. Instead, it’s more like a poetic ode to a man who needs to reconnect with everything he’s given up (or lost). We also get a small look into how the chefs from this region enhances their haute cuisine.
Whatever happened to him in the past which sent him into hiding, we don’t necessarily need to know. The later act has that panache reminiscent of how Remi from Ratatouille recognizes why food matters. It’s drawing out those feelings you had from that first time tasting that dish mom made for you on your birthday. There’s nothing like an authentic home cooked meal made to warm your soul more than anything else.
4½ Stars out of 5