Home Video Hovel: Pig, by Jack Fleischer
Sometimes a film takes a well tread idea and gets something new out of it. Pig isn’t that film.
Requiring a certain level of plot ignorance in order to retain its effectiveness, let’s just say it’s a film about memory. For those of you with a determined interest in low budget independent cinema with a vaguely “sci-fi” theme. It’s worth watching once for some decent performances from leads Rudolph Martin and Heather Ankeny. This film lacks much in the way of action or innovation, but it remains imaginative. Yet, the biggest problem with this film is that even at 90 minutes – it is far too long for the story it tells.
We come across a man in the desert, hands bound behind his back and a hood placed over his head. He is discovered by a woman living with her young son in the middle of nowhere. She nurses him back to health. Upon awakening we discover that he has amnesia. Armed only with a name on a scrap of paper, he then tries to track down his identity.
If you’re curious to know more, what follows will spoil some of the plot that gives the film its slight substance, but perhaps that alone is saying something.
There are two films that directly feel like they have informed Pig: Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. All three are discussions about love, memory, and identity. Memento focused on the memory part of this equation. In it the audience is literally given an opportunity to experience the disjointed existence of a man with no memory. Eternal Sunshine focused on how the memories and love are so intertwined. Pig is focused on the identity part of memory. It’s a story all about how this character (credited as “Man”) has constructed his identity, but it all comes to us through the themes of memory and love. When you have amnesia, how flexible is your identity? Can a person rebuild themselves simply by the act of taking away their past?
There are unanswered questions that mess with the logic of the plot and the situation, but it feels as if the real problem with this film is that we never see “Man” as anything but confused. We are shown evidence that other lives exist, but we never see them, and he never reaches a new one during the plot of the film. We only ever see a blank slate stumbling across other identities. It’s a little like watching the face of an actor as it becomes mesmerized by movies he forgot he was in, while we never get to see the movies.
What you’re left with is a story that depends on the audience unraveling the truth behind this man’s unusual situation. We’re forced to pin our interest on why things are happening, not why are they happening to this person. This turns Pig into a puzzle, and once the puzzle is solved, there really isn’t much left.