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Piggy (2012)

Piggy Film PosterDirector: Kieron Hawkes
Starring: Martin Compston, Paul Anderson, Neil Maskell, Louise Dylan Gordon
Certificate: 18
Running time: 100 minutes
DVD Release Date: 21 May 2012

A low budget British crime thriller, Piggy often comes across like a low-rent mash-up of Fight Club and Dead Man’s Shoes. There’s a good idea at the core of this film, but the execution lets it down and it doesn’t go as far as it should with the material.

Joe is a loner who suffers from social anxiety – he doesn’t like to go out, or to interact with people. He prefers to stay at home, smoke weed, and play video games. But he tries hard to adjust. He gets a job, trying to be like normal people, and when his brother John comes home (presumably from the army), he allows himself to be pulled into a small social circle with John and his friend Claire.

One night, after an edgy exchange with some dodgy blokes in a pub, John is stabbed.  Joe feels that he is to blame, and his anxieties return. Then someone called Piggy comes knocking on his door, bringing condolences, friendship, and the promise of revenge.

As the two men begin to hunt down the perpetrators of the fatal stabbing, there are suggestions that Piggy might be a Tyler Durden-like figment of Joe’s imagination, but the script never goes deep enough to tease us with this detail. The film lacks real bite and substance, ignoring psychological insight in favour of scenes of violence that lurch curiously between the unrealistic (silly one-punch knockouts) and uncomfortable brutality (energetic head-stampings). Any ambiguities that might have been played out get lost in the rush; a more subtle approach might have taken the film down a more interesting route. The social anxiety aspect – which could have been another intriguing detail to expand and play with – is forgotten in the second half of the film, when Piggy gets to cut loose with his pathological beatings.

The performances are solid. Martin Compston plays Joe as a young man, who is at first lost in his own life and is then offered some kind of connection to the world. Paul Anderson is a very visceral psychopath, and in the latter stages of the film there is even a slight hint of pathos in the character of Piggy. Neil Maskell doesn’t get anywhere near enough screen time, but makes a lot of his small role. Louise Dylan is wasted in the role of Claire – all that’s required of her is to look pretty and be understanding.

There’s enough promise here to suggest that writer/director Kieron Hawkes will go onto bigger and better things. The film’s worth seeing to catch sight of that promise, and it’s a lot better than it might have been given the low budget and the struggle involved in bringing something like this to the screen in the UK.

GARY MCMAHON

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