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Nicolas Cage Brings Home the Rave-Review Bacon in ‘Pig’

What the critics are saying about ‘Pig,’ the only movie I plan on discussing this summer

Nicolas Cage sits with a glass of wine in a still from the movie ‘Pig.’ Courtesy of Neon
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Pig, this summer’s Nic Cage vehicle, opens nationwide on July 16, and the reviews are starting to trickle in. By and large, the critics are loving this movie — particularly praising Cage’s performance as a prominent Portland, OR chef who goes off the grid to live as a truffle forager and then returns to the city to search for his stolen truffle pig.

Washington Post critic Michael O’Sullivan gives the “strangely moving little film” a full four stars, writing that the movie is “a reminder of what the actor is capable of.” For O’Sullivan, the success of the film lies in a Cage-ian paradox: “Cage...has always been at the top of his game when he plays against the volcanic emotions inside his character, rather than indulging them.”

“Nicolas Cage isn’t just an actor,” writes Variety’s Michael Nordine in another rave, “he’s a state of mind.” Nordine is especially impressed by how the “strange, sad” film, directed by Michael Sarnoski, “manages to feel both out there and grounded, often at the same time.” The result is a film that is “unexpectedly touching” and a performance from Cage that is “a revelation.”

Over at AV Club, Mike D’Angelo gives the film an A, promising in the headline that the movie is “richer and stranger” than expected. Per D’Angelo, Cage’s performance “balances manic intensity with uncharacteristic restraint in ideal proportion,” while the film itself is “considerably smarter and more ardent than it appears at first glance.”

While the Mikes and Michaels raved, Sheri Linden at the Hollywood Reporter was a bit more tepid. While Cage “plays the enigmatic central character at the perfect simmering temperature, and without a shred of ham,” Linden takes issue with the way in which the screenplay — written by Sarnoski with Vannessa Block — includes some tired tropes and “well-chewed and reconstituted morsels,” resulting in “a gutsy narrative recipe, even if the final dish is less than the sum of its ingredients” and insights that are “less deep than meets the eye.”

In the Guardian, Benjamin Lee gives the film three stars out of five. Lee praises the way Sarnoski’s film tells a “beautifully shot, slowly unfolding” story, but finds the film “sometimes too quiet to be truly distinctive.” Still, Pig gives Cage “the time and space to be sincere once again, a rare experience for him and a rewarding one for us,” a performance that “shows that underneath the lazy mugging to the cheap seats, he’s still a soulful and careful actor.”

The New York Times named the film a “critics’ pick,” with Jeannette Catsoulis writing the “stunningly controlled” film is “both moving and strange, leaving us with more questions than answers,” even if Pig “can at times feel engulfed by its own sullenness.” As far as Cage’s performance, Catsoulis describes Cage’s performance as “superb.”

This piece will be updated as more reviews publish.