In today’s review, we tackle the new Nicolas Cage film, Pig; and False Positive, a maternity nightmare.
Pig (Video on Demand) – The thing with Nicolas Cage is that while he’s an Oscar winner, it would seem that he’s ready to say Yes to any and every project that falls on his lap. The genres these film represents also scrapes the bottom of the barrel in many instances, and he’s constantly playing the role of deranged title character, hamming it up as that’s most likely what the director is asking of him. And that’s why Pig – which screened in Cannes earlier this year, and opens the Edinburgh Film Festival later this year, is such a charmer. It’s the directorial debut of writer Michael Sarnowski, and the actor and screenplay are well paired on this one. It’s open in the Oregon forests, where we meet Rob (Nicolas Cage). He lives off the grid, his only companion is a truffle pig. And that’s basically how he ekes out a living – with a youngish rare foods dealer who buys up the truffles Rob finds, his solitary outside world contact.
What drives this character study is when the pig is violently kidnapped and Rob goes on the warpath to retrieve his sow. The drive to Portland is one that awakens old memories and lives. There’s a great surprise about what Rob was in the distant past, and how he was held with such high regard by the luxury restaurant industry, and the rare foods arena. There are shafts of violence and grim humor that punctuate the narrative. Cage simmering, but always reining it in, is such a treat to watch; as it’s markedly different from the roles he’s played over the last decades. Alex Wolff as the young accomplice of Rob also impresses. Without giving away any spoilers, I’d recommend this film for it’s interesting viewpoints on the high-end culinary scene, and what motivates chefs to keep it going, even when it becomes repetition and routine.
False Positive (Hulu) – There’s a straight line of progression from Rosemary’s Baby to Carrie, and now, False Positive. It’s tense horror, that strangely enough, relies on an opening scene that’s pure foreshadowing a la Carrie. Personally, I felt this a weakness, this first scene with a blood-soaked protagonist. Giving the Director the benefit of the doubt, I presumed he was sticking to some horror film convention, or felt he had to provide foreshadowing of some sort to make the Horror fans stay in their seats. But as a Horror film that uses Childbirth, the pregnancy stage, and the OB-Gyne as major elements, it would have been nice to make the narrative follow a linear progression for a change and not rely on this tried and tested device.
Ilana Glazer stars as the wife/expectant Mom, Co-produces, and Co-writes the Screenplay. Justin Theroux plays the husband, and there’s Pierce Brosnan, as a celebrated OB-gyne, running one of the most successful and sought after fertility clinics. The narrative feasts on the insecurities and simmering tension between wife and husband when it comes to achieving that successful pregnancy. At this point, the sinister aspects of the machinations of husband and fertility doctor are all made to look like paranoia on the part of the wife. It’s gaslighting through and through, and we see how easy this can be done. The only thing I’ll say here is that if as a Horror fan, you feel impatient, that this film isn’t delivering on the Horror promise, just be patient – for when it does come, it really asks you to blink or close your eyes, in much the same way that a film like Carrie did, decades ago.