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Oscar winner Nicolas Cage seems to be relaxing into a new phase of his career, following his mute performance in Willy's Wonderland, with 2021's Pig, a moody and slightly pretentious character study wrapped around a crime drama, where a not-that-interesting story is almost forgiven thanks to some stylish direction and a terrific performance from the star.

Cage plays Robin, a man who lives in the forests of Portland, Oregon, where he survives working as a truffle-hunter with his own pig. Unfortunately, Robin's hermit-like existence is disrupted when his pig is stolen and he must confront his past in order to find her.

Director and co-screenwriter Michael Sarnoski attempts to provide this story with more attention than it deserves by pretentiously splitting up the story into three parts and giving them titles, like a Woody Allen film, but these titles become irrelevant pretty quickly. What is relevant and really well done is establishing the character of Robin without showing everything that happened to him that has brought him to be living in the woods of Portland with a pig. The character is beautifully provided foundation when Robin walks into a restaurant and asks for someone and is informed that the person died 10 years ago.

The story becomes more interesting as it is revealed that Robin was once a gourmet chef and that everywhere his investigation leads him, people remember him and his reputation precedes him, kind of like John Wick. There's an absolutely brilliant scene about halfway through the movie where Robin enters a fancy restaurant and questions the head chef there, who once worked for Robin as a sous chef and was fired after a couple of months. Watching Robin turn this guy to jelly was probably the best scene in the movie.

Sarnoski does display a genuine talent with the camera. Watch the deliberate and delicate movement of the camera during any moment where food is being prepared by human hands. Sarnoski really wants us to understand the artistry that goes into being a chef and by the time the credits roll, we do.

Cage's Robin isn't completely silent like his character in Willy's Wonderland, but the entertainment values of the performance comes from Cage completely losing himself inside this character and his embracing of Robin's physicality. Solid production values are also an asset, in a film that does tell a compelling story, but is not the masterpiece the director seems to think it is.