SUNDANCE REVIEW – “Piggy”
Piggy is the feature-length adaptation of Carlota Pereda’s 2018 short film of the same name. The film follows Sara (Laura Galán) who spends most of her time working at her family’s local butcher shop. She intentionally avoids any form of social interaction from peers her own age, as they often mock her for her weight. After a long day of avoiding bullies and familial responsibilities, she takes a trip to the local pool for an afternoon swim where she thinks she’ll be alone. However, the local bullies find her at the pool and not only nearly drown her, but take her belongings and change of clothes – forcing her to walk home in her bathing suit. On her walk home, she sees the group of girls being kidnapped by a mysterious man and simply walks away from the situation. Throughout the film, Sara is left with this moral dilemma and finds herself drawn back to it no matter how hard she tries to escape it.
If that description of the film sounds unpleasant, it’s because the film is deliberately unsettling and unnerving from start to finish. You’re completely put in the shoes of Sara and immediately both empathize with her character but also become increasingly more critical of how she continually operates throughout the film. Laura Galán gives an absolutely tremendous performance as Sara, allowing the audience to feel every emotion possible as you make her make both the most understandable and outrageous of decisions in the heat of the moment of heavy criticism and taunting. It’s a horror film where the daily life of the lead character is as unpleasant as the actual gore.
Director Carlota Pereda does a tremendous job behind the camera here, giving both an intimate and personal look at an outsider’s point-of-view in something of a fucked-up coming-of-age film. On the other hand, she also knows how to deliver a truly tension-filled movie that will have you on the edge of your seat in one minute and cringing due to the violence and situations the characters find themselves in the next. Pereda has natural gift at framing all of her shots in a super unique way and letting the film naturally build tension even when nothing riveting is necessarily happening.
I was also impressed with how Carlota Pereda managed to depict Sara’s relationship with her family in a way that was nuanced. While her rivalry with the local group of bullies is definitely the focal point of the film, it always seems to come back to the harsh criticism and back-handed words her family lays upon her at the dinner table or in passing at their butcher shop. From start to finish, Piggy is a truly unsettling and visceral film about an insanely nightmarish moral dilemma that none of us want to find ourselves in.