Piggy (2010)

Piggy starts off with a cheater’s guide to scriptwriting; a startlingly on-the-nose narration by the Danny Dyer-esque Joe (Martin Compston), who kicks off the film in a warehouse, watching the titular Piggy kicking the living shit out of someone, whilst Joe narrates…

“That’s me. Joe. And that’s Piggy. Piggy was an avenger. He’d fix what I couldn’t and he realigned everything. Piggy had a philosophy and confidence that carried me. Piggy gave me his version of freedom. If I have to tell my story I have to tell you Piggy’s, and all the violence, and how I became part of it.”

We then find out Joe has a job he hates, is scared of humans to an agoraphobic level and is – basically – a stoner’s throw away from becoming a depressingly pointless absence of a man. Luckily his brother John (the always-watchable Neil Maskell) shows up and makes him less lonely… only to get stabbed to death by a bunch of low-level pub-dwelling douchebags.

Thrown back into his previous life of grey nothingness, all is looking bleak and pointless in Joe’s world until one of John’s old mates turns up at his door; a man called Piggy (Paul Anderson), who could or could not be Brad Pitt from Fight Club.

This encounter sets in motion a series of escalating events, each more violent than the next, leading the timid Joe into a realm of horror and atrocity he can’t possibly comprehend.

Plot-wise Piggy is relatively pedestrian. It is a revenge flick with little surprises, focusing on the inner turmoil of our protagonist, who deflects his lust for vengeance onto another man more willing and capable of cruelty and violence. It rolls down the expected avenue of “resistance then acceptance then enjoyment then – finally – horrific realization” which all struggling revenge-seekers must embark upon. It is a film about consequences and its message is abundantly clear, from its opening narrative to the on-the-nose dialogue.

Despite the obviousness of the dialogue and story, writer / director Kieron Hawkes’ script is well written, both evocative and thought-provoking, it’s just a shame it doesn’t provide anything vastly original or cunningly subtle.

Unfortunately Piggy is also incredibly slow at times – because of the relatively obvious storyline – and I was shocked to find that 45 minutes in I still had an hour left to watch… when I’d thought the end was nearing! Conversely, though, the performances of Martin Compston and Paul Anderson ensure you keep watching, wondering how far Joe will fall before truly destroying himself in the process.

Piggy is very well directed by Kieron Hawkes, bolstered by a hauntingly effective score by Bill Ryder-Jones. They create a bleak, unwelcome modern London swathed in darkness and dirt, and it’s grittily effective.

Overall Piggy is a strange beast; both bloody, brutal, horrifying, intense and darkly compelling but also ridiculously unoriginal, dangerously unsubtle and far too long. Despite great work from all involved, the sum of its parts doesn’t add up to genius and more to a mediocre (if well crafted) revenge drama whose twist is awkwardly uninspired.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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