Review: Piggy (Fantastic Fest 2022)

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Title: Piggy
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Carlota Pereda
Starring: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins

What It Is: A teenage girl named Sara (Galán) is constantly chastised by her family, namely her controlling and verbally abusive mother, and is teased by her peers because of her weight. A part of Sara is beginning to bloom as she becomes a young woman, desiring to be seen as human, and beautiful, when she ventures to the pool in a bathing suit. She briefly comes across a handsome man (Holmes), also wading about in the pool, when a group of girls who often harass her bully her cruelly and physically, calling her “Piggy.” The man in the pool, having seen the entire episode, kidnaps Sara’s bullies in her honor. Sara sees him drive them away in the back of his bloodied van as they beg for her to rescue them. Traumatized, Sara walks back home in her bathing suit, resulting in a sunburn. She considers whether or not to save the girls or join forces with her stalker, as he’s the first person to show such kindness and empathy towards her.

What We Think: Simple in concept as a revenge thriller but slick and darkly funny in execution, Piggy offers a story with a strong lead character. Sara is the perfect protagonist as the socially award misunderstood teen whose angst feels deserved and relatable. Laura Galán is fantastic as Sara, bringing great strength and heart to the character without oversimplifying or sacrificing depth in exchange for sympathy. Sara is dimensional, a kid forced to face disorienting horrors that could throw anyone off the deep end, but by herself. You see her struggle to come to any solutions or decisions, but is often thwarted in her path due to the inconsiderate people around her. The extent of the film’s extremity is taken in stride, often to the point of being absurdly humorous, which made watching all the more uncomfortable yet joyous. The plot doesn’t always go where you expect it as well, heart-wrenching moments where you’re rooting for Sara to have the happy ending she wants and deserves, but neither her nor the audience really knowing what do to in order to get that outcome as the film forces us to question what is right, what does Sara have to lose? There are moments where you feel the heaviness of her loneliness and can see how she’s tempted by the kidnapper’s opportunistic chaotic evil in order to escape her misery-ridden life. Where the story ends up is actually surprising and well done, nailing its protagonist’s fascinating arc into something memorable and even remarkable.

 Our Grade: B+, Darkly funny, entertaining, and weirdly romantic, Piggy proves as a uniquely twisted coming-of-age revenge flick that reminds of other powerful indie female-fronted favs like The Book of Birdie, Make Up, Cam, Level 16, and Ravage. I’m pleased to see director Carlota Pereda come out with something so fresh for her debut feature film, and I await whatever strange thrills and kills await us in the future, as well as in hopes that standout actress Laura Galán continues to be offered strong roles such as this.

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