Diego Luna’s Mr. Pig is not a biography of current British Prime Minister David Cameron but it does chronicle a man’s obsession with something many would see as trivial.
I couldn’t resist the semi-topical joke in the beginning so apologies to any international readers who won’t understand what I mean. If you’re interested google something like “David Cameron Pig” and I’m sure you’ll find what you need.
This film takes the form of a road trip to nowhere as Danny Glover’s Ambrose Eubanks takes his prize pig Howard on a trip to Mexico to sell him to a family friend for a tidy sum so that he has something to leave to his daughter in an attempt to make up for years of neglect.
Eubanks is a tragic character in the sense that he seems really bad at keeping his life together. When we are introduced to him the bank are on his case about late payments on his farm and it looks like he is on the verge of losing it. He has a number of maxed out credit cards that he has no intention of paying back and he generally seems to be lying to everyone to stay ahead of his numerous debts.
This character seems tailor made for Danny Glover as he excels at playing characters who are old and tired yet forge on in spite of this for their own reasons. It’s a really endearing performance from Glover that really lets the audience root for Eubanks. His general fatigue and desperation comes through clearly as well as the urgency of him needing to finish what he starts before he’s unable to.
Most of his screen time is spent with his pig and he seems to fuss over more than he probably should but it becomes a metaphor for all of his regrets in life. He showers the pig with affection and does everything he can to take care of it because he regrets not doing the same for his own family. At least that is what is heavily implied. It’s a strangely compelling relationship and it shows just how many regrets Eubanks has in his life.
Howard himself becomes a character in his own right with lots of personality on display even if it is imparted almost entirely by Eubanks’ obsession with taking care of this animal. When all’s said and done the pig doesn’t end up doing an awful lot but feels like an important part of the film nonetheless.
Eubanks does have an opportunity to spend with his daughter, Eunice (Maya Rudolph) who tracks him down and ends up helping him with his plan to sell the pig. There’s a severe reluctance on her part but she goes along with it because she concludes that she can either do that or leave a dying man to suffer his last days alone.
Maya Rudolph gives a fine performance and there’s an implied history between Eunice and her father but we never quite get a sense of who Eunice is or what that relationship is. Their dialogue tells us that they haven’t really spoken in years but the film doesn’t really explore why that is. There are hints that something interesting exists below the surface but we never get to see it.
The story doesn’t really go anywhere interesting either. The film is essentially in two parts with Eubanks’ journey with the pig taking up the first part and having him thrown together with Eunice filling the second part. It should be a decent setup as in theory we could see how Eubanks functions shouldering all of the regret and then have him deal with that in the second half but the film just meanders along as if it’s afraid to make a point about lost connections, regrets or the importance of family. There was a good film in here but it never quite gets to come out.
An uneven experience with solid performances from the lead actors but a story that never quite manages to get going. Danny Glover creates an endearing character with Eubanks and Maya Rudolph does a capable job with what little she is given. A good film does exist somewhere beneath the surface but the surface is never scratched.
- solid performances from Danny Glover and Maya Rudolph
- a compelling relationship between Eubanks and the pig, Howard
- a story that never quite becomes interesting