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Thursday, May 8, 2014

PIGGY -- DVD review by porfle

Sometimes a movie can have a twist ending that leaves me in a twist myself.  Or maybe I just missed it because I was trying too hard to get it.

Even so, PIGGY (2012) is a pretty good movie, although it wants to be really memorable and doesn't quite make it.  Martin Compston (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREEDA GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS) plays Joe, a nebbishy young loner ("I fancy my own company") whose rowdy, outgoing older brother John (Neil Maskell, KILL LIST) shows up one day after a long absence to become Joe's best pal and intimate confidant once again.  

The solitary Joe begins to come out of his shell, until one night John is set upon by some punks he clashed with earlier in a pub and is murdered.  As Joe and John's grieving fiance' Claire (Louise Dylan, "Emma") feel helpless to do anything about it, a mysterious stranger (Paul Anderson) claiming to be an old friend of John appears.  Calling himself "Piggy", he offers Joe the chance to help him track down and get revenge on John's killers.

First-time feature writer-director Kieron Hawkes gives PIGGY a dreamlike sort of mood (I felt a bit like I was waking up when it was over) with his fluid directing style and editing in which scenes flow smoothly together and often rely on wordless images and sound design to convey the story.  He's not afraid to let his film get slow and thoughtful at times,  with his main character engaged in reflective introspection which he relates to us in voiceover. 

Piggy, of course, is a jarring contrast to all of this with his manic, erratic behavior and bursts of shocking violence which he  carries out with utter nonchalance.  Joe doesn't even try to find out anything about this guy's background--in particular, what turned him into the glib, wiry, street-savvy predator we see before us--and simply goes along with him as a mainly passive participant in hunting down those guilty for his brother's murder.

As each instance turns uglier, Joe's second thoughts about Piggy, and revenge in general, haunt him more and more.  Yet so do his feelings of impotence not  only in the face of his brother's murder but in his inability to take action against both a random mugger and an ex-boyfriend stalking and terrorizing Claire (for whom he's developing strong feelings).  So while he's put off by the violence committed by Piggy, he can't help welcoming the feeling of power that this sort of payback instills in him. 

With Piggy as his mentor, teaching him to read things like "body language and unspoken interaction" along with other valuable life lessons, we feel that eventually Joe will take a more active part during their revenge sessions, which tend to get pretty intense.  Director Hawkes depicts violence with a combination of very graphic visuals and a variety of crunching and squishing sound effects that are almost equally disturbing.  Piggy, unsurprisingly, practices what would most accurately be described as "overkill."

As all of this escalates, the similarities between PIGGY and another well-known film about an ineffectual man being tutored in violence by a charismatic yet borderline psychotic sadist became rather unmistakable (and, it would seem, intentional).  This is so obvious, in fact, that I kept wondering if it were a red herring.  After the reveal,  I was still wondering.  Was I being faked out?  Double faked out?  Or was I to take the most apparent "surprise" ending at face value? 

The DVD from  Inception Media Group is in 16x9 widescreen with 5.1 digital surround sound and subtitles in English.  The sole extra is the film's trailer.

PIGGY is definitely a worthwhile view--Kieron Hawkes has put together an artistically pleasing film with its share of drama, shocking violence, and intrigue, brought to life by a capable cast.  As for the ending, it seems to be open to whichever twist you find most preferable.  I agonized over it during the closing credits, then chose a bit of each and took a nap.

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