Joe (Martin Compston) is a shy young man who seems somewhat scared of the grim London world around him. However his loving brother John (Neil Maskell) helps bring a sense of stability and happiness to his life, which is abruptly ended when John is savagely murdered.
Finding it difficult to come to terms with his loss, Joe is visited by an odd man called Piggy (Paul Anderson), who says he’s an old friend of his brother. Piggy is an avenger who knows the authorities aren’t going to do anything John death, and slowly works his way into Joe’s head, convincing him of the need to take direct action. Soon the two men are out on the streets looking for the five men responsible for John’s death. At first Joe finds it difficult to stomach the violence Piggy gets him involved in, but soon Joe get increasingly violent himself as his world begins to further unravel around him.
From first-time writer/director Kieron Hawkes, there’s a lot of potential on show in Piggy, although it does suffer slightly from the freshman curse of being slightly heavy-handed. The music is just a little overbearing, Joe’s voiceover is a way too intrusive and unnecessary, and the storyline is a smidge too pleased with an ambiguity that’s more indecisive than illuminating. However while the movie has a lack of restraint and subtlety at times – particularly in the voiceover, which is the definition of using it as a crutch – underneath that the core of the film works well.
Joe is an interesting character and his journey over the first hour and a quarter is an engrossing one as his boundaries are tested and he tries to replace what he’s lost with violence and a sense of satisfaction in exacting revenge. Likewise Piggy is incredibly intriguing, as he’s almost a life coach in bringing out the aggression in a young man who’s used to being submissive and pent up.
The film brings up a lot of fascinating ideas, with the opening moments presenting Piggy almost like a superhero, but one who’s far too into the violence he’s dishing out. The movie then continually plays with the relationship between Piggy and Joe, almost teasing the audience to come to a twist conclusion in their own minds about what’s going on between the two of them. However in the final 20 minutes the film seems unsure what it wants to do with all the things it’s thrown into the air.
Piggy himself gets a wonderful speech about what he feels he’s given his protégé, but the rest of the conclusion is rather uneven. There’s nothing wrong with leaving some things up to the audience, but here it feels more like the film’s shrugging its shoulders and saying it doesn’t know than asking the viewer to go out and consider the ramifications.
Overall Verdict: A promising debut from Kieron Hawkes. There’s a lot of intensity to Piggy, but a tendency towards heavy-handedness and an uneven ending mean it isn’t everything it could be.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac