Pig Movie Explained: Ending, themes & Existential dilemmas analyzed
Pig Movie Ending Explained & Themes Analyzed: Pig (2021) is one of the most unconventional films you would see in Nicholas Cage’s filmography. More so, because it belongs in there and doesn’t belong there at the same time. It is almost as if debutant director Michael Sarnoski and Cage himself secretly plotted a cunning ‘defying-expectation’ narrative to play with the viewer’s mind.
Now that Pig is the highest-rated Nicholas Cage movie on Rotten Tomatoes and also one of the best films of 2021, it’s time to analyze why the film really works. Distributed by NEON (the new A24 if you must) and released theatrically for a brief period of time, Pig follows Nic Cage on a quest.
Pig Plot Synopsis & Summary:
Initially, we don’t know who Cage stars as. For a large chunk of the film his lonesome, hermit-like existence is rigged with a wordless presence. The film opens with Cage’s loner persona slowly ravaging through the forest that feels like his habitat now. He is accompanied by his only companion, a pet pig who helps him find and locate truffles in the dense Oregon forest.
Broken into three chapters namely: ‘Rustic Mushroom Tart,’ ‘Mom’s French Toast and Deconstructed Scallops,’ and ‘A Bird, a Bottle, and a Salted Baguette,’ the first full line of dialogue comes from Amir (played by Alex Wolff) – a young, arrogant dealer who visits him every Thursday in order to provide the man with living essentials, in return of his precious truffle discoveries.
The nosy, talkative Amir is eager to know more about the man and his reasons to have chosen such an isolated life, but he dismisses him off and Amir just backs off. The viewer does know that his name is Rob, but Amir being more eager in earning a fortune rather than making friends with a person who is reluctant for any kind of human interaction just drives away.
Anyway, Amir leaves and that night itself, Rob’s cabin is attacked and his pet pig is stolen. When Rob wakes up the next morning, his only worry is to get his pig back, and thus he takes an uncharted maneuver and leads towards the town. When Cage’s character reaches town, we soon realize that it has been more than a decade of him living in the woods. He has no point of contact and no sense of how to approach the newest tragedy that has hit him. Reluctantly, he calls Amir and the young guy becomes his guide (more so a ride) who helps him find answers.
Rob’s only agenda is that he wants his pig back. Therefore, Amir takes him to one of the biggest dealers of truffles, someone he himself sells to. The answers are not there but they do get a hint that some of the drug-hooked hippies might be behind this pig stealing conspiracy. When they don’t get final says from the hippies, Rob is forced to look back into the past.
Who is/was Robin Feld?
Rob is of course short for Robin Feld. But it’s a strange feeling whenever the name comes up. It is as if an old gangster has been suddenly summoned from his grave and everyone is just amused. His first name comes up when Rob decides to go to Portland in order to visit Edgar (Darius Pierce) – an old acquaintance who he thinks might have some information about his pig.
When Edgar doesn’t give him anything by saying that his name meant something to people back in time, but he has no value anymore, Rob leaves. Edgar questions Amir if he even knows his name? and then we cut to a frustrated Rob trying to find an old underground fight arena where Edgar organizes fights for the restaurant staff in the area.
This is where we are first introduced to the name ‘Robin Feld.’ In a generic reintroduction of a sort of fighter, Rob walks up to the fight board and writes his name down for the next round. At this point, we are misled to believe that Rob will end up beating the shit out of people and getting some major headway in the search for his pig. However, that doesn’t happen, and Robin gets beaten to a pulp. He does manage to get an important clue though.
Amir, at this point in the runtime, realizes that the name ‘Robin Feld’ stands for something truly important. He even goes ahead and asks Robin if he could uses his name to book a table for them at the restaurant that is their next stop. And to his surprise, his name works.
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It’s only after a few more sequences that we get to know who Robin Feld was. We understand that he was the best, most renounced chef of Portland. People used to adore and look up to him and the food he made, had the ability to change the lives and moods of people in trouble.
When the director hits us with this reality, it comes as a shock. In a film that is leading up to a sure-shot narrative of revenge, the revelation suddenly grounds the film in more palpable and subtle grounds. Its human core becomes deeper and the reasons for a lot of decisions in the film also become clearer.
Who stole Rob’s Pig?
Rob’s Pig in the movie was stolen by Darius (Adam Arkin), who is Amir’s father and an established and well-known businessman in the truffle sales business. When Amir started dealing with Rob, Darius didn’t pay much attention to it, because he did not think that his son could do any good.
However, when he did start getting good at his business, Darius got fumed and couldn’t fathom his still adolescent son doing business in the same line as him. So, Darius hired the hippie couple to steal Rob’s pig and put an end to his son’s business. While Darius is initially portrayed as a sly, cunning, and reserved Villian-like figure, his intentions, as grey as they seem on paper, can be listed as noble. As a protective father, he just wants to take care of his son in the ways that deem fit for him.
Why did Rob choose to live a solitary life in the woods?
The themes of loss and grief in the movie Pig Explained:
The straight answer to this can be found in Robin Fled’s choice to leave his established life as a renowned chef and a famous person in Portland because his wife Lori (Cassandra Violet heard only on tape) died. We all know that different people deal with trauma and grief in different ways. The three principal characters in Pig (2021) deal with it in their own way too.
Like a lot of people, Rob decides that the only way to deal with his loss is to run away from it. He is one of those people who simply can’t stand the sight of anything that reminds them of their past. Other than the tape that Lori had recorded for Rob on one of his birthdays, we don’t see anything in his cabin in the woods that can tell us the life that he used to live.
For any person who gets involved with him in the present, his wordless, soul-less, and hermit-like existence might feel like dealing with an overwhelming and erratic personality. This is why the viewers too will see him as a middle-aged man too angry to listen to anything. So, when we reach midway through the film where things start clearing up, we understand why the Pig is so important to him. When Rob says that he “loves her” he means it with all his heart. The love between him and that pig is not merely that of a co-habitants, but of a more sacred bond that is fixed up by the grief that Rob carries within.
While the film doesn’t allow Rob to have a cathartic moment, making the existential dilemmas that he suffers, even more grey and melancholic; it does allow Amir to reach a moment of getting over his own tragedy. Pretty much like Rob, both Amir and Darius have also lost their mother and wife respective. Even though she is alive on medical assistance; making their grief gets stuck in a vacuum, Amir does manage to make sense of a few things. The film leaves him and us in a grown-up mold and I think that’s enough.
Pig Movie Ending Explained: Is the Pig Alive?
This isn’t one of the movies where you search Reddit threads with the ‘Pig Explained’ keywords to discover fan theories that turn your head upside down. The film’s ending is pretty straightforward. It is what it means that really gets you. Let’s trace the ending back to where it finally starts making sense.
When Rob realizes that it is Amir’s father Darius who knows the whereabouts of his pig, he approaches him to politely ask him to return her back. The angry, enraged, and grieving Darius dismisses him and offers him money instead. Rob declines and leaves, thereby instructing Amir to get him a few things for his next move.
Yet again, the viewer is misled because we are made to believe that Amir is probably going to go out and get him some weapons that he can use to get Darius to tell him where his Pig is. Instead, both Amir and Rob get together to make Darius Dinner. This is where the carefully foreshadowed moment of Amir confessing how his father and mother (only once in their entire life together) came back from one of their dinners without fighting over something and instead, praised the food they just had.
We soon realize that Rob was actually the chef who made Darius and his wife happy before he lost her to an unmentioned situation. Rob cooks the same meal for Darius, and in a moment of breakdown, he finally tells Rob that his pig is dead. Food serves as a weapon in Michael Sarnoski’s clever subversion of revenge-movie tropes.
So, after getting his answer Rob has no reason to stay in the city and asks Amir to drive him back. It is there he confesses that he wished that he had not come looking for his pig because if he didn’t, she would still be alive in his head. This is a philosophically enriching moment where we see that Rob is someone who hides away from his trauma because it is some sort of coping mechanism for him.
On the other hand, Amir is shown as an optimistic fellow who accepts the death of his mother, in spite of her being on the ventilator. The film ends with things being different for both these characters. Rob walks to his cabin and finally draws the courage to listen to Lori’s tape in full, while Amir promises to come back to him next Thursday. It’s a bleak, sad but hopeful end. One that tells us to keep living, in spite of the losses that we face in the way.