Deep in the Oregon wild, Robin (Nicolas Cage) lives a solitary, off-the-grid existence. His only company is a pig. A truffle-hunting pig. The pig (no name, he calls it 'Pig') provides Robin's only visible source of income: the truffles sniffed out by Pig are sold to Amir (Alex Wolff), a young Portland restaurant supplier. Amir makes weekly visits to the cabin to pick up the truffles. Robin treats his presence with disdain.
That changes one night when thieves arrive at Robin's cabin, assault him and steal Pig. Robin needs help and short a support network, reaches out to Amir. The mismatched duo, Amir in his designer clothes, Robin haggard and with untreated head wounds from the attack, are soon speeding towards Portland in search of Pig.
In Portland things get weird. It emerges that Robin was once a highly-renowned chef (the reason for his exile in the woods is never spoken of, although it becomes apparent he has lost a wife or lover). But Robin still knows the who's who of Portland's foodies and believes this network is key to finding Pig. During the search, we learn Amir is trying to escape from the shadow of his father, who's also a major figure in the restaurant scene. Amir and Robin traverse the city, sometimes amicably, sometimes not, on their quest to find Pig.
Directed and co-written by Michael Sarnoski, Pig is a strange and surprising film, defying predictions at nearly every turn. Despite Robin's rage at his loss, the revenge thriller genre is not where Pig heads. Instead, we are presented with something very different; Robin's search turns into a reflection on grief and loss and status. There are some surreal interludes, like when Robin mentions that he can remember everybody he's ever worked with and every customer he's ever served. There are even some laughs when the film mocks the pretentiousness of modern fine-dining.
Nicolas Cage tries his hardest to string it all together. His performance is understated and strangely compelling. Alex Wolff's Amir is a dependable sidekick, unlikeable at first but eliciting sympathy by the end. Adam Arkin as Amir's father makes a remarkable cameo, taking part in one of the film's most memorable scenes when he's brought to tears by a meal prepared by Robin.
Pig doesn't end up where you think it will. It's unexpected and quirky and probably not to everyone's taste. And the film's stranger elements probably hinder the overall cause. But at a taut 90 minutes, it's a worthwhile investment, especially for what it says about life and loss.