Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
United Kingdom, 2021. AI-Film, BlockBox Entertainment, Escape Artists, Hungry Bull Productions, Pulse Films, Saturn Films, Sweet Tomato Films, Valparaiso Pictures. Story by Vanessa Block, Michael Sarnoski, Screenplay by Michael Sarnoski. Cinematography by Patrick Scola. Produced by Thomas Benski, Vanessa Block, Nicolas Cage, David Carrico, Adam Paulsen, Dori A. Rath, Joseph Restaino, Steve Tisch, Dimitra Tsingou. Music by Alexis Grapsas, Philip Klein. Production Design by Gwen Hopman-Damon, Katherine Isom, John Kirkley. Costume Design by Jayme Hansen. Film Editing by Brett W. Bachman.
Nicolas Cage lives practically alone in the dense Oregon woods, unkempt, dishevelled and his only companion an adorable pig who is also his living. On their walks through the forest, the pig sniffs out the truffles lying deep in the ground that Cage collects and sells to a fancy buyer (Alex Wolff) who shows up periodically in his souped-up sports car to purchase them. One night, Cage’s home is invaded by two strangers who beat him up and take the animal away; he sets out after them but his pickup truck breaks down, prompting his calling Wolff to accompany him on his search to find the kidnappers. Refusing to change his clothes or even wipe the dried blood off his face, Cage is a contained, quiet mountain of vengeance as he carves out a path through Portland, its fine dining restaurants as well as the strange goings on beneath the city’s surface. During his quest to recover his beloved animal, we learn that his Man Of The Woods routine is actually a recent development that is the result of devastations of the past, which prompted his giving up on a glittering career as a top-rated chef. The secrets seep out smooth and slow as we progress to a conclusion that we expect to be a porcine John Wick but is something far more philosophical, providing us with one of Cage’s best performances for how wise and contained it is. A few story elements feel like contrived indie strangeness (an underground restaurant fight club? Sure) but the cinematography is effectively haunting and the streamlined plot is as sleek and efficient as Cage’s fine work thanks to the expert direction. It’s a film that is more emotionally devastating the more it insists on staying away from any emotional indulgences.