Nicholas Cage, Truffle Hunter
In Michael Sarnoski’s impressive directorial debut “Pig”, Nicholas Cage is Rob, a former Portland-based superstar chef – most of the restaurants in Portland have followed in his footsteps – who now lives in a cabin deep in the Oregon forests, where he moved after his wife’s death. There, he hunts for truffles with the help of his adorable foraging pig (the pig does not have a name but goes by the designated pronoun “She”). One night Rob is assaulted and the unidentified assailants steal the pig.
He reaches out to Amir (Alex Wolff), a guy in his early twenties, who acts as a go-between for Rob and the food industry. As they drive to Portland, where Amir has been told that the pig may be located, Rob tells Amir that he does not need the pig to find truffles, the location of the trees is all he needs. He wants her back because he loves her and it’s a credit to Cage and the opening truffle-hunting scenes that we sincerely believe this.
The Restaurants of Portland.
As they search the city, they visit assorted stylish restaurants and boulangeries that many of Rob’s former staff have now opened. One of these is Eurydice where, in one of the film ‘s best scenes, Rob berates his ex-cook Derek (David Knell) for opening a restaurant serving haute cuisine instead of the English pub he always wanted. Derek is so emotionally drained by the encounter that he breaks down and tells them that it is Amir’s father Darius (Adam Arkin) who stole the pig.
The movie is Rob and Amir’s quest to find the the pig but’s it is also a comment on the ruthlessness of the restaurant business and , without being antithetical, the sensuality of food. Sarnoski shoots the cooking and degustation scenes like he was directing “Babette’s Feast” – the poring of red wine into a red wine glass has a visual and aural sensation that is well, delicious. This theme is embellished in the movies climactic scene after Amir tells Rob that one night, long ago, Darius and Amir’s mother dined at Rob’s restaurant and had such phenomenal meal that it altered their lives and their perception of life. Rob decides to recreate this meal and then present it to Darius hoping that a trip back in time to culinary heaven will loosen his tongue. Again, the sensuality of the meal’s creation and degustation is lovingly captured.
Sarnoski and Block
Director Sarnoski, who just won a Spirit Award for this, his first screenplay (story by him and Vanessa Block, pictured above), has a polished but laidback style, and he is good with actors. The porcine scene-stealer keeps our interest in the early scenes but then it is all Cage. He is very good, especially in the final third, and we begin to remember how effective he was , during his heyday in the eighties and early nineties.
As for all that cooking! Yum