Nicolas Cage wears “Cochon”, but it’s a dull thriller

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  • Nicolas Cage’s new film “Pig” was released in the UK on Friday.
  • The film stars Cage as a reclusive truffle hunter.
  • However, the lackluster thriller doesn’t live up to its hype.

When I was a student, I knew a young man who liked to talk about truffles. In fact, he was obsessed with truffles. Whatever the topic of discussion, he would find inventive ways to insert the unnecessary fact that he loved to eat truffles.

But it was he who was most proud to ask others if they or they had already tried truffles. Along with the staggering and frequent statement that “his father made a lot of money from the financial crash of 2008”, this obsession was, of course, this young man’s attempt to settle down.

Truffles are an expensive and luxurious treat which, for him, held a certain weight or social capital. This is the world Nicolas Cage tried to escape in his new independent thriller “Pig”.

The film – which is co-written and directed by newcomer Michael Sarnoski – finds Robin (Cage) living a simple life with a truffle-hunting pig somewhere in the vast forest outside of Portland, Oregon, where they pass. their days looking for precious truffles in the deep forest.

Every now and then they are visited by the skillful but troubled young Amir (Alex Wolff) who buys what they find. However, one evening, everything changes when intruders arrive, attack Robin and steal his pig. When he regains consciousness, beaten and covered in blood, he limps towards society in search of the attackers.

Yes, that basic revenge synopsis looks suspiciously like recent hits like Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick” series, the popular “Taken” franchise, or even Cage’s recent psychedelic hit “Mandy.” But “Pig” takes much less interesting turns in this pretty attempt at Sarnoski’s weighty cinematic achievement.

What’s new: Nicolas Cage, of course

Nicolas Cage in “Cochon”.

Neon


Cage is the glue that holds the ultra-thin “Pig” story together.

Her character, Robin, is a distressing and emotionally bruised man who is gripped by the traumas of his past. He’s also a man of very, very few words – we don’t hear Cage speaking to another person for about 15 minutes. But Cage’s grim physical presence remains compelling throughout, and often throws up the lackluster dialogue provided to him.

Cage’s withdrawn demeanor also gives the film a welcome dose of suspense. As the narrative progressed from theme to theme, raising neither emotional or metaphysical issues nor intrigue with its simple ideas about grief and food, I began to wonder if the film was preparing for it. a big chaotic streak made for Cage. – the genre that has become his trademark in recent years.

This chaos never happens, and filmmakers almost certainly fashioned their film around this character-actor subversion, which other filmmakers have successfully deployed elsewhere.

In his masterful 2002 film “Punch-Drunk Love”, for example, Paul Thomas Anderson played Adam Sandler as Barry Egan, a desperate salesman plagued by his inability to navigate the social world around him. And through inventive camera framing and abstract dialogue, Anderson traps the violent, childish outbursts Sandler made famous in comedies like “Happy Gilmore” and “Big Daddy” and questions them about issues of gender and sexuality. : he delivers a compassionate criticism of Sandler through Sandler.

But in “Pig,” Cage’s cast is shallow and unconvincing. For all the air of the film to innovate, it is simply a question of treading familiar furrows.

Bottom Line: Even with Cage’s strong performance, “Pig” is not worth your time.

Nicolas Cage in “Cochon”.

Neon


It has been interesting reading some of the rave reviews that “Pig” has received from critics. Most of the promotional material for the film in the UK, where I live, has resulted in this film being Cage’s top rated on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is currently 97% on the popular aggregation site.

And just like my old pal’s affinity for truffles, for some critics, the mere fact that Cage toned down his successful bravado, and the film’s pace was meditative rather than plot-specific, signaled a sort of intellectual success. A review of the film in The Atlantic by the writer David Sims was even titled “The intellectual comeback of Nicolas Cage.”

I have written extensively elsewhere for Insider on the disturbing trend in contemporary American independent cinema of filmmakers who are simply implementing what has been considered a “prestige” aesthetic, such as tangential tracing and icy rhythm, in addition tasteless and soulless stories, and “Pig”. is another entry on this list. This time, however, many of my media colleagues seem to have been duped or are simply indifferent to the artifice.

It is true, as Stanley Kubrick allegedly said, that the “least effective and least pleasant way” of communicating ideas and emotions in the cinema is directly. While a filmmaker can frustrate interpretation, resist paraphrasing and get an audience to really think about the themes of a film, “the thrill of discovery runs through the heart.”

Conversely, if the structure of a film is demanding and unconventional, but there is nothing else, you leave the cinema annoyed and out of your pocket.

The only thing I let “Pig” think about was whether any animals were injured during the filming of the movie.

“Pig” opened in UK theaters on Friday and is currently available for purchase or rental on Amazon Prime Video in the United States.

Rating: C


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