Pig (Or the Counterpoint to John Wick)


After repeated pressure from my podcast cohost Jef, I finally took the time to watch the movie "Pig" starring Nicholas Cage. Admittedly, Cage isn't a preferred actor of mine, and the title did nothing to entice me. Not to mention it's obvious the movie was made on a shoestring budget.

But you may officially consider me a fan.

The story is something like a counterpoint to John Wick. The premise of both stories starts out similarly. John loses his dog, and Rob (Cage's character in the movie) has his—yes, you guessed it—pig stolen. But that's where the stories part ways dramatically.

John Wick is an over-the-top revenge story that makes you feel good. At least temporarily. We know down deep as we enjoy movies like this that ultimately, revenge does not in fact make the world better. There are much better ways to solve problems. And if you follow Jesus, revenge is not one of our options (see: Matthew 5:43-47).

That's where the movie Pig shines. Rather than Rob going on a killing spree to get his pig back, he approaches it from a more human angle. And the way this movie taps into the significance of loss and its fundamental role in our humanity is profound. Cage shines in this role and you like his character more and more as the movie progresses. 

I won't spoil any of the big plotlines, but you learn that Rob used to be a great chef. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when he eats at a fancy restaurant with a chef that once worked for him. The two of them stand apart in sharp contrast. Rather than pursue his dream of creating his own pub, this other chef (named Derek Finway) settled for the more prestige chef position at a nice restaurant. It's a decision that makes sense, yet Rob gets him to see it for what it is.

Rob: They're not real. You get that, right? None of it is real. The critics aren't real. The customers aren't real. Because... *this* isn't real.

Chef Finway: [laughing awkwardly] Okay...

Rob: Derek, why do you care about these people? They don't care about you. None of them. They don't even know you because you haven't shown them. Every day, you'll wake up, and there'll be less of you. You live your life for them, and they don't even see you. You don't even see yourself.

[long pause; Derek's tight smile has slowly faded into a look of sorrow and regret]

Rob: We don't get a lot of things to really care about.

There are a couple of lines here worth staring at.

  • "Every day, you'll wake up, and there'll be less of you."
  • "We don't get a lot of things to really care about."

Many of us spend our time in jobs we hate because the money is good. Yet the money numbs us to what we've truly exchanged for it. Or at least distracts us from the realities that this movie invites us to pause and consider. We stay busy doing things that don't matter as much to us as we think. We pursue anything that promises to shield us from pain and loss and tell ourselves that the ends justify the means.

And in so doing, many people become less of themselves by the day. I suspect many of us realize too late that we don't get many things to care about.

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