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Film / Pig

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"We don't get a lot of things to really care about."
Robin "Rob" Feld

Pig is a 2021 drama directed by Michael Sarnoski.

Robin (Nicolas Cage) lives contently by himself in the Oregon woods with only his beloved pig for company. They hunt for valuable truffles which Robin then sells to Amir (Alex Wolff), his only contact with the outside world. One day Robin is brutally attacked and his pig kidnapped. He recruits Amir to bring him to the nearby city of Portland and its high dining scene, where's he's forced to confront the ghosts of his past in his search to recover his only friend.

The movie was released on July 16, 2021. The trailer can be seen here.


Tropes associated with this movie include:

  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Several characters question whether Robin's relationship with his pig was physical. He denies it vehemently, and while he clearly loves his pig as more than just a tool for finding truffles, there is no evidence that he did anything untoward with her.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Done several times to subvert the idea that the film was going to be a John Wick-esque action thriller. Notably, at one point Robin infiltrates a shadowy fighting ring run by the Portland culinary scene. Rather than kicking ass, Rob gets beaten severely, but does get the info he needs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The pig died the night the two junkies stole her. However, he's helped Amir and his father reforge their damaged bond, potentially helping the older man become less of a ruthless jerk, and demonstrates a willingness to open up again by shaking Amir's hand as a friend. The film closes with him finally listening to the cassette tape of his lost wife, no longer so emotionally injured that he can't even bear to hear her voice and indicating that accepting the loss of his pig has helped him grieve and move on, beginning to accept the loss of his wife as well.
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  • Break Them by Talking: This is not a violent Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Robin knows people in Portland's high-end restaurant world, and he knows food, but he displays no expertise on violence or reliance on it. Rather than threaten people, he just reminds them of how unsatisfying it is to act for mere material gain.
  • Broken Ace: From the moment the audience is introduced to Rob, you know he's a man who's lost faith in everything, his pet pig the only thing he has left. As the film goes on, it is shown that Robin was a world-class chef who many recognize at a glance in Portland's cuisine community.
  • Call-Back: When Robin and Amir first ride together, Robin turns off Amir's obnoxious audio book on classical music. In the end, Amir gets in his car and turns off his audio book in disgust.
  • Caustic Critic: Downplayed, but it's established early on that Robin can't taste others' food without throwing in unsolicited critique. Restaurant workers in the fight pit pay lots of money for the chance to beat him up for a minute, implicitly because he spent years picking over their recipes. That said, his delivery within the film proper is always matter-of-fact and in an even tone. His wife's cassette recorded for him suggests that it used to be more impolite, since she mentions she'll probably have to get drunk to deal with his constant complaining.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Darius offers Robin $25,000 to leave town and never come back, and if he doesn't, Darius threatens to kill Robin's pig. In actuality the pig was already dead, and had been for days. Darius was attempting to compensate Robin, keep him from figuring out the truth, and give him even more of an excuse to hide from his wife's death in the forest, all in one sentence, as he both respected him as a chef and empathized with his inability to face a terrible tragedy. Amir and Robin have a conversation alluding to this at the end, where the latter comments he could have kept believing the pig alive, while the former says this wouldn't change the reality. Darius tearfully confesses the truth only when he's forced to face his own harsh reality - that his own wife has been functionally dead for years even though her heart still technically beats.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: What led Robin to leave from society and live as The Hermit is gradually revealed over the course of the movie.
  • Deconstruction: Of Roaring Rampage of Revenge flicks, particularly John Wick in the abduction/abuse of an animal kickstarting the plot. Especially with Nicolas Cage in the spotlight and a marketing campaign that steered into the skid, Pig is poised to unravel like any other action-revenge flick. In its first act, Robin even visits some kind of underground fight club to with which he was supposedly involved in the past. After this plot point serves its purpose, however, it's dropped and never mentioned again. This sets up a theme that most of Robin's Dark and Troubled Past is largely irrelevant, and he never flies off the rails in an Action Hero rage (except to cause some petty, mundane damage to Amir's car in a short burst of irritability). The whole film culminates in Robin cooking a meal for the Big Bad instead of just kicking his ass like a revenge flick would inevitably require him to do. See Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism below.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Amir listens to an audio book in which a haughty narrator drones on about how classical music is the height of culture.
  • Determinator: Robin will find his pig. He even willingly takes a beating from an aggravated chef to earn the address.
  • Famed in Story: At least in Portland, Robin is regarded with somewhat mythic awe by those in the know.
  • Fight Clubbing: Secret underground fight clubs are among the places Robin's search leads to when he's in Portland. Notably, rather than a "fight" club, it seems to be a place where stressed-out restaurant workers pay for the chance to beat on desperate men to let off steam. Robin gets Edgar, the man managing the club, to give him important information by volunteering, and the restaurant workers present paying good money because he used to be infamous as an unpleasable aesthete who constantly criticized others' food when he ate out.
  • Food Porn: The pigeon and pommes anna Robin makes for Darius at the climax is shown in loving detail during and after the cooking process.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: The food options at Eurydice are portrayed as utterly ridiculous, and Rob criticizes Derek severely for having opened the restaurant rather than the pub he always wanted. Derek agrees.
  • The Hermit: Robin retreated into the forest decades ago so he could live in isolation.
  • Housepet Pig: Robin's only companion is his beloved pet pig.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Robin ends his heart-to-heart with Derek, the poor chef's reaction is to greedily gulp down the entire glass of fine wine he originally poured to celebrate having Feld in his restaurant.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Robin and his truffle pig, naturally.
  • Meaningful Name: the Chef at Eurydice is, like Eurydice, trapped in a hell of his own making.
  • The Pig-Pen: Pun aside, Robin spends the entire movie in his ratty hermit clothes. It is implied that he doesn't have running water (or at least not for bathing) and when he lets a man beat him in the Fight Clubbing scene, he spends the rest of the movie with a bloody-face. It isn't until he returns to his home at the end of the movie does he wash his face in the river.
  • Photographic Memory: Robin declares that he remembers every individual meal he ever served to every customer he ever had, and does indeed remember everyone who ever worked for him, even a lowly prep cook he fired after two months for overcooking some pasta, to the point of being able to reminisce with the man about his hopes and dreams years later.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Averted and discussed by the chef at Eurydice, a hoity-toity Portland restaurant that serves tiny portions of pretentious food heavily marketed as being locally-sourced. While the chef is a Perpetual Smiler, Robin reveals he remembers the man, who briefly served as a prep cook in his restaurant, and his dream of opening an English pub with a signature recipe for eggs. The man scoffs at the viability of that sort of restaurant as an enterprise, yet when gently prodded, he instantly rattles off the recipe by heart and implicitly confirms that he doesn't like his current job, and still dreams about opening the pub instead.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Even after years of only cooking in his rustic cabin in the woods, Robin can whip up world-class cuisine from memory.
  • Oh, Crap!: Amir's face goes slack as Derek’s description of the frightening pig thief makes him think of his father.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Robin delivers an absolutely brutal one to Derek, the chef at Eurydice who gave up on his dreams in order to please the more superficial members of the culinary world. However, unlike other examples of this trope, Rob is actually trying to help his former colleague realize what he's become rather than simply spite the man out of some cruel form of retribution. By the end of his speech, Derek is no longer smiling and downs an entire wineglass in front of his customers.
    Robin: Derek, why do you care about these people? They don't care about you. None of them. They don't even know you. Because you haven't shown them. Everyday you'll wake up, and there'll be less of you. You live your life for them, and they don't even see you. You don't even see yourself. (Beat) We don't get a lot of things to really care about.
  • The Reveal: Robin's pig died shortly after her abduction due to injuries sustained while in the junkies' custody.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Taken apart by the film. Robin's first major speedbump is getting information from the cook fight club, but rather than demonstrate incredible fighting skills and brutally defeating his opponents, he volunteers to serve as a punching bag. He then spends the rest of the film calmly but firmly following a breadcrumb trail of clues to the whereabouts of his pig through discussion, bartering, and coercion. The climax of the film is even Robin breaking into the house of the Big Bad, Darius... to cook him a meal instead of killing or assaulting him as one might expect.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The pig was likely dead by the time Robin started looking for it. Subverted with the reveal that he doesn't really need the pig to find truffles; he just valued it as a beloved pet and friend, and that coming to terms with its loss has helped him come to terms with the loss of his wife.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The head of the other truffle-hunting operation Amir buys from seems like a demure old lady, until she learns that two of her customers have stolen a truffle-sniffing pig (which could be used to cut her out of the truffle-harvesting operation). She instantly starts swearing up a storm and races for her car to go confront the thieves.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Despite its constant tear-jerker nature, Bittersweet Ending (with an emphasis on bitter), and harsh critique of the meaningless puffery within society, Pig falls toward the idealistic end of the scale. Robin's own cynicism comes from a place of honesty with himself. He constantly cuts through the bullshit of each facade people present to him simply because he believes they would live more fulfilled lives if they just stop lying to themselves about what they want. Despite the death of Robin's pig at the movie's end, it's ultimate argument suggests that it's much better to feel the full weight of losing a loved one than to go through life numbed by a subconscious disregard for how a person truly wishes to live his or her life.
  • Stepford Smiler: Derek, the chef at Eurydice and Rob's former colleague, is constantly smiling, especially when he runs into Rob again. The more he talks to Rob, however, the harder it becomes for him to maintain his fake smile.
  • Supreme Chef: Robin was this, in the distant past. He can still cook, too. In the end, we actually get a close look of his extremely orderly kitchen, filled with living herbs and carefully canned ingredients.
  • Symbolic Baptism: At the end of the film, Robin returns to his hut and immedaitely heads into the river, finally washing the blood and grime off his face. The symbolism is pretty blunt.
  • Talking to the Dead: Technically talking to the brain dead, but Amir has a conversation with his comatose and long since brain dead mother about how much he wishes his father could let her go.
  • Wham Line: Robin's quest to retrieve the pig and find the kidnappers takes on a whole new light with one line.
    Robin: I don't need my pig to find truffles.

"I want my pig."