Anyone who takes a look at the vita of actor Nicolas Cage (59) might get the idea that the star chooses his roles according to the motto “quantity instead of quality”. In the past five years alone he has been involved in over 25 productions – a fact that he himself made fun of in the successful meta-slap “Massive Talent” from 2022.

But one film recently stood out: In “Pig” from 2021, which at first glance looks like another B-movie in Cage’s resume, he delivered the best acting performance since his Oscar performance in “Leaving Las Vegas” from 1995 away. Now the unusual drama is celebrating its free TV premiere, albeit in what is probably the most unfavorable slot in TV history: at 1:05 a.m. on RTLzwei. Those who can keep their eyes open until then will be rewarded with a touching and psychologically profound drama.

Robin “Rob” Feld (Cage) was once the most brilliant chef in the US restaurant scene. But since the death of his wife, he no longer wants to have anything to do with high society, not even with civilization in general. He lives as a hermit in a small hut in the forest, his only companion for almost 15 years is a truffle pig. His fine nose gives Rob enough financial leeway to let truffle dealer Amir (strongly played by “Hereditary” star Alex Wolff, 25) provide him with the essentials.

But the unique nose suddenly awakens covetousness: One night, masked men break into Rob’s hut, steal the pig and leave Rob with a bleeding head wound. When he regains consciousness and doesn’t make the familiar grunt, he makes a decision: he won’t rest until he has his pig back.

Yes, the premise of Michael Sarnoski’s “Pig” sounds downright silly. It makes you feel like you have to watch a goofy revenge thriller, a kind of satire on “Taken”, for the next 90 minutes. But those who are not deterred by their first association will be served philosophical film art instead. Rob’s search for his pig is actually a search for meaning in life. At the same time, it is the desperate clinging to a supposed protective mechanism that the character has built up in order to avoid coming to terms with the grief for his wife.

Nic Cage, who is known for his exaggerated facial expressions and gestures, has never been seen as stoic and withdrawn as in “Pig”. There’s even a hint of Pixar’s film “Ratatouille” when the protagonist’s cooking awakens memories that were thought to have been lost. And perhaps the greatest masterpiece of “Pig”: conjuring up a happy ending from a tragic ending at the same time.