I went into Piggy with some trepidation. The film sounded intriguing, but I was worried that it might fall into the same trap as a lot of British films, using senseless violence as a way of papering over thin plot and poor characterisation. Now, Piggy may violent, but it’s not gratuitous-and it features a strong storyline and two fascinating performances.
Piggy follows Martin Compston’s Joe, a young man who makes his way through life with as much ease as possible, avoiding all confrontation in an attempt to get by. When his brother (Neil Maskell) is murdered, he meets Piggy (Paul Anderson), who not only helps him with his grief but also shows him how to get revenge on his brothers killers.
Kieron Hawkes’ film is not only a thriller, but a multi-textured psychological drama, which deals with the relationship between the characters of Joe and Piggy. Both Compston and Anderson deliver strong performances-the former’s built-up repression makes a strong counterpoint to latter, who portrays Piggy as a feral creature with a heart of gold-making him captivating to watch.
Hawkes makes his big screen directing debut with Piggy, and the writer/director has a keen visual eye. Sure, Piggy is gritty, but at times it’s is also rather beautiful. The strong visuals coupled with an impressive score by Bill Ryder-Jones give the film a dream like quality that often blurs the line between Joe’s reality and imagination-something which adds an extra layer to the film
It’s ironic that Piggy’s main strength is also its only weakness. The film spends so much time with Compston and Anderson that we don’t get to see the world beyond their relationship. Are their acts of violence and revenge striking terror into London’s criminal underworld, or are their attacks going unnoticed? It’s hard to say, and because of this the film feels a touch too insular, although having said that, if the film was opened up then it might lose some of its power.
Piggy is a thought provoking film and one which will leave the viewer with a few questions. Sure, it’s often morally ambiguous (what vigilante film isn’t?) but it’s worth watching for calibre of the performances and the interesting concept.