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Friday, May 9, 2014

DVD Review: Piggy



Piggy is a thriller about a man named who becomes numb after his brother is killed, until he meets Piggy, who encourages Joe to take the law into his own hands. This film might sound like a simple revenge thriller, but it is much more than that. It’s an intense psychological portrait of a man who is afraid to take action. It has a wonderful build and a more serious, intimate tone than most films of this genre.

When we meet Joe (Martin Compston), he is working as a messenger, delivering letters and packages. In voice over he tells us: “This was the first job I’d had in years. I’d been too shy to work. I didn’t even like going out the door.” And we see him interacting awkwardly with his co-workers. He tells us: “This wasn’t a good job for me. I found it hard being so close to other people. And the more I was around them, the less I felt part of their world.” And through the camera’s placement, we’re close with him as he walks along the streets. We’re closer to him than anyone in the world of the film. It’s almost as if we’re inside his head, and the voice over narration is composed of his own thoughts to himself.

At one point we see him stop himself from going down an alley because at the far end there is a group of people blocking the way. From his perspective they seem like they might be dangerous. And so he walks the long way around. And when he sees them from the other side, after going around, he sees (and we see) that they’re in fact children, and Joe laughs at himself for avoiding them. It’s a nice moment. On his way back, he walks through them, saying “Excuse me,” and smiles. It’s a small victory for Joe, and we feel it just as he does. This is a really wonderful way of establishing his character and perspective. And I love that the film takes the time to really create Joe's character.

One day, the doorbell rings, startling him. He unlocks several locks on his door, and John, his older brother, comes in. His older brother has a positive effect on his life and his disposition. We see how his brother makes Joe more comfortable, almost more human. He even gets him out to a pub. We also see Joe pining for a girl named Claire (Louise Dylan), a woman that his brother used to date.

Then one night Joe is mugged while walking home, which clearly sets him back. His brother still is able to get him to out to a bar, but then a minor incident leads to much bigger trouble. Joe pushes his chair back to get up, and unintentionally bangs into someone behind him. He immediately apologies, but the guy becomes angry. Joe soon leaves, as that man and his mates keep looking over at him. And then the next morning the phone wakes Joe, and he rushes to the hospital. Claire is already there, and we learn that John was attacked late in the night. After John dies, Joe is alone again.

Until one day, someone knocks on his door. The set is great, by the way, as there is a small hall that Joe must walk along to get to his front door. So he has to make a deliberate move to it, to walk to it, which gives him the time and opportunity to really think about his decision. Walking to his own door is like moving out of his comfort zone, even within his own apartment. Those simple moments really feel like a struggle between action and inaction.

At his door is a man who introduces himself simply as Piggy, a man who knew Joe’s brother. Joe says, “I think I remember you from when I was a kid.” Piggy (Paul Anderson) says something needs to be done about his brother’s murder. It’s a very strange, unsettling scene – with Joe standing and Piggy seated, repeating what a terrible thing John’s murder is. He leaves, but soon Joe and Piggy begin getting together. At one point, Piggy gives him a gift – a large life. “For cooking, you need a sharp knife,” he tells Joe. And Joe actually seems happy.

Piggy offers to help Joe. He takes him to the building where lives the man who mugged Joe. They follow the man, and Piggy attacks him. He tells Joe to hit him, but Joe is frozen. Here is a man who goes to great lengths to avoid confrontation, and now he’s put in a position where he’s seeking it, and it’s too much. Piggy stomps on the mugger’s hand, but doesn’t kill him, and tells Joe the man won’t rob anyone any more. Of course, there is the question: How did Piggy even know about this mugging? And even if he knew about the mugging, how did he find the mugger?

But now they discuss a plan to go after the five men who were responsible for John’s murder. Piggy has them both wear rubber pig noses. Piggy says, “The more stupid the disguise, the more they won’t be able to see past it.” But there is question of just who Piggy is, and what his motives are.

Claire stops by Joe's apartment while Piggy is there, so Joe tells him to hide in the other room. Claire and Joe talk about John's murder, with Claire saying, “It’s like they took not only his life, but his past too, because you can’t think about him without thinking about them.” A good point. And suddenly Piggy is standing behind her, motioning to Joe after Clair wonders aloud if the murderers will ever be caught, and you get the sense that perhaps Piggy is a figment or concoction of Joe’s imagination.

This film boasts good performances, particularly by Martin Compston as Joe. And it's well shot, and completely engaging.

The DVD contains the film’s trailer, but no other special features. Piggy was written and directed by Kieron Hawkes, and is scheduled to be released on DVD on May 13, 2014 through Inception Media Group.

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