Haruki Murakami said, “Every one of us is losing something precious to us. That’s part of what it means to be alive.” But the characters of Michael Sarnoski’s Pig are running away from the sense of loss. Like an archetype, each individual lives in denial and avoids the feeling of grief. They fear Melancholia.
Pig is a journey for 3 prominent pillars of its narrative where at least one transforms to accept the loss and let it become a part of his existence. However, Sarnoski’s directorial debut film is not a transformational expedition. Somewhat, in John Green’s words, “Grief does not change you…It reveals you,” hence Pig reveals to its viewers the actual pain of its protagonist, Chef Robin Feld (Nicolas Cage).
A truffle hunter, Robin “Rob” Feld (Nicolas Cage), lives in the Oregon wilderness with his beloved Pig. The pet cum salient companion to Rob’s loneliness helps him to seek buried truffle (a strong-smelling underground fungus) in the woods. The culinary delicacy is traded to a city’s rich lad, Amir (Alex Wolff), in return for money and other necessities.
Rob lives in the woods without a ripple until a couple kidnaps his Pig. With the help of Amir, Rob embarks on a journey to find his Pig and return back to his peace as soon as possible. However, the clues take him back to his hometown, Portland, the lands he avoided. Still, the journey becomes inevitable due to a sudden loss.
Who was Robin Feld?
For a long time, the mystery remained intact as Amir tried to figure out the identity of old beard Rob, who used Amir as a ride to find his stolen Pig.
Rob tried to deal with his old friend Edgar, but he denied any assistance. Furious Rob infiltrated the Hotel Portland Basement, where Edgar used to organize fights for Restaurant workers. Rob made a grand entry at the arena and scribbled his name clearly on the scoreboard, “Robin Feld.”
Following the trail of the lost Pig, Rob and Amir ended up at Eurydice restaurant, where Chef Finway revealed Rob’s true identity. Robin Feld was one of Portland’s most famous chefs. He was a decorated individual who even trained the most famous Chef Derek Finway. His legacy could be better understood in Amir’s father, Darius words who told Rob that half of the restaurant in Portland owe him a debt.
Why did Darius steal Rob’s Pig?
At Eurydice restaurant, Amir told Rob that he had an arrangement with his father, Darius. They don’t step on each other’s sales and thus maintain a peaceful distance. Later, Darius revealed to Rob that he didn’t pay heed to the arrangement between Rob and Amir at first. Still, when his son’s business took off, it literally pissed him off.
Darius disclosed that as soon as Rob started dealing with Amir, he certainly stepped on Darius’ world. Hence, Rob violated his business area. But Rob wasn’t the only target at his disposal. Darius disregarded Amir’s interest and establishment in the business. He didn’t think his son had a knack for it. Being an overprotective father and a crafty dealer, Darius paid off Tweakette to steal the Pig. In all his might, Darius tried to put an end to Rob and Amir’s arrangement.
Why did Rob leave Portland and start living in the woods?
This particular stance delivered the theme of the film. When Rob’s wife, Laurie, died, grief-stricken Rob left the city and started living in the Oregon wilderness. Before leaving, he handed over his restaurant to Helen, who turned it into a bakery.
Rob fled to the woods to run away from the loss of his wife. In the beginning, Rob tried playing Laurie’s recorded cassette, but he couldn’t listen to her voice. His denial suggested that Rob still hasn’t accepted the sense of loss. In his Pig, he found an escape. Rob channelized his emotional journey in petting the animal and got attached to the whole set-up of truffle hunting. He got attached to another living being to fill the void left by Laurie, but was it a salient approach to grief? No.
Rob disclosed to Amir that the Pig wasn’t very instrumental in truffle hunting. Instead, the trees showed him the location of the fruits. The whole pursuit was initiated out of fear. Rob loved the Pig and didn’t want to feel the sense of loss again. He was afraid of the melancholic void.
A similar fear could be traced in Amir and Darius, who lost their mother and wife, respectively (she didn’t die but was on the verge of dying). Rob’s cuisine reminded Darius of his wife that fueled an emotional breakdown. In the climax scene, the three characters faced similar Melancholia: the sense of loss.
‘Pig’ Ending Explained
After an emotional breakdown, Darius revealed that the poachers were too rough with the animal. Hence, the Pig died during the transfer. A tormented Rob requested Amir to drive him back to his wood cabin because the hunt for the stolen Pig met a dead end.
On their way back, at the diner, Rob shared his fear with Amir. “If I never came looking for her, in my head, she’d still be alive.” The words underlined Rob’s defense mechanism against grief, who preferred to live in denial rather than face the truth. But this time, things were different. Amir had accepted the death of his mother even when she was on the ventilator. As a character, he was more in touch with reality than Rob. Hence, when Rob was looking out for another escape from his sense of loss, Amir, in very few words, compelled Rob to accept the painful reality.
Rob promised to meet Amir again on Thursday with a new delivery of Truffles. When Rob reached his wood cabin, he finally played Laurie’s recorded cassette, a birthday greeting from Laurie. Symbolically, it revealed that Robin Feld had finally accepted the grief of his life and hence, had transformed into a better being.
“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence.”Haruki Murakami
Pig is a 2021 Drama thriller film directed by debut director Michael Sarnoski. It stars Nicolas Cage, Adam Arkin, and Alex Wolff in prominent roles.