The Daily Stream: Pig Reminds Us What It Feels Like To Care

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Pig"

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: Nicolas Cage stars opposite Alex Wolff in this surprising, beautiful drama. The film follows a reclusive mountain man, Rob (Cage), who has built a peaceful place for himself alongside his faithful truffle pig. When the pig is stolen and Rob attacked, he ventures into the city for the first time in years. A cocky young truffle supplier named Amir (Wolff) is hesitantly roped into the endeavor to find Rob's pig. The film was initially marketed as a "John Wick"-esque thriller about a man hell-belt on revenge, but as the duo follow the breadcrumb trail of clues into the Portland culinary scene, it reveals itself to be something completely different. Rob remains bloody and dirt-streaked for much of the movie, his pain made visible and purposely un-ignorable. Hopeful, delicate, and painfully emotional, "Pig" is actually a meditative, stimulating drama about the things and people that tie us to this world.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Like its lead character, "Pig" hides its emotional core in a tough exterior shell. But once it's cracked, love pours out. Cage puts in some of the finest work of his career as a man whose crackling rage is doused by the varied signs of life that pull him back into the world. The movie rests its emotional force on little moments, like when Rob sits with a boy who lives at the house he used to call home, or makes a rich, satisfying meal with his bare hands. Slowly but surely, the film reveals its true self, and it's vulnerable and lovely like a pearl in a clamshell. First time filmmaker Michael Sarnoski, who also wrote the script, contrasts frenetic shaky cam shots that reflect Rob's frantic state of mind with steady, deliberate sequences that hone in on the satisfying details of everyday life.

"We don't get a lot of things to really care about," Rob tells an uncomfortable chef over a pretentious meal, and the weight of his earnestness crumples the chef's facade in a heartbeat.

When I recommend this movie, my favorite of 2021, I'm almost always met with one question: "Is it sad?" Yes, it is sad, but "Pig" is also the best movie I've ever seen about coming back to life again after falling into a cavern of grief. When I was trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of personal loss last year, I searched far and wide for something to lend me a moment's relief. I found the answer not in a book or a support group, but in a theater, with "Pig." It's hopeful, deliberately shining its cinematic spotlight on the small sensations, rituals, and connections that together build up everyday joy. The movie will wreck you — it's designed to — but it won't leave you hanging.

The world "Pig" builds can be as jagged and primal as a scream, yet it cradles viewers in its story before bringing them gently back to Earth. If it strikes the same chord for you as it did for me, it'll leave you feeling wild and alive, and above all else, grateful.