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Piggy (Kieron Hawkes, 2012)


Piggy, the debut feature film from writer and director Kieron Hawkes, is a tough minded thriller that can’t quite sustain its intended effects. Centering on Joe (Martin Compston), a meek young chap from Central London, the film tracks his escalating frustrations after his brother is murdered in a meaningless bout of street violence. Unfortunately, the thoughtfulness that is present early on, mainly delivered through Joe’s many voiceovers, becomes coarsened through his relationship with Piggy (Paul Anderson), a mysterious friend of his dead brother. Past a certain point, Piggy devolves into a series of rather senseless revenge assassinations, which do a lot to demonstrate Hawkes’ talent behind the camera, but little to probe the issue of violence.


Much like Fincher’s Fight Club, Piggy puts the sanity of its protagonist into question from the start. Unlike that film, Piggy too quickly opts for style over substance. This is unfortunate because the early scenes seemed to offer a novel perspective of a life lived under crushing social anxiety and the threat of violence. Joe’s relationship with Piggy is presented as some sort of rite of passage, but the beatings, kidnappings and murders that they engage in indisputably present a skewed, and rather unquestioned, vision of manhood. Too cool for its own good, Piggy feels like it’s posturing and taking pleasure in the abuse it dishes out, which deflates any anti-violence message that it might hope to impart.


Worse yet, Piggy grows monotonous despite all of its macho swagger. As Piggy and Joe begin a series of revenge slayings, the film’s structure must accommodate repeated torture and interrogation scenes. This slide into genre territory derails the film’s charting of Joe’s emotional growth. The result is a film that while not without its moments, never coheres entirely. Still, some elements here work nicely. Compston and Anderson perform adequately within their tightly scripted roles, and there is some superb cinematography (courtesy of James Friend) and no shortage of strong images on display. It’s just a shame that so much talent and energy is placed in the service of a story that feels like it has been told far too many times before.



Jeremy Heilman