Has there ever been a more obvious example of a writer that was bullied at school? Or maybe a writer that was desperately looking for a handle on excitement that his lonely profession would not normally allow. Well, these are the most immediate reactions to Kieron Hawkes tightly budgeted thriller. The idea of revenge on those that bullied or mugged you, made physical on film, has all the markings of someone getting their own back, the pen being mightier than the sword an' all that.
Regardless of the reasons for its existence, we should be grateful for Piggy, as it doggedly holds up a mirror to not only the man here than needs it most, but to a society that, like most victims, looks on but usually stays silent, preferring to accept the beating that will inevitably arrive, be it now or in the future, metaphorically or actually.
Hawkes has tried here to bottle the feeling that every victim has ever felt. Lost and angry, confused and revengeful, full to the brim with prospective retribution, but none of the bottle, know-how or enthusiasm for doing unto others what has unfortunately been done unto them. Hawkes takes a traditionally aggressive demographic, lower-middle class urban males, aged 18-25, and reverts them to the most interesting type for portraying on screen. This makes them easy to write for, as this is already what they are. Doubtless he has first hand knowledge of the subjects in question, even if he doesn't match that actual experience with Piggy's choice of returning justice.
Starring Paul Anderson as the eponymous Piggy, Martin Compston as the unfortunate Joe and featuring another impressive turn from Kill List's Neil Maskell, the cast are solid and impressive throughout. Anderson is only a few short steps away from morphing into Tyler Durden and given the opportunity, this reviewer wouldn't be surprised had he been happy if that was where the direction has led him. Hawkes has carefully steered Piggy away from this potential stumbling block, avoiding what must have been a very real temptation to become darkly comic.
Compston is the most muted of all, truly the most difficult of roles, as Joe retreats into his shell after the untimely death of his brother at the hands of a group of thugs that really had no more axe to grind with him than the way he looked at them, refusing to back down when confronted. Joe is the antithesis of this and Compston manages to convey this character trait well, even when it proves to be more of a problem than a solution.
The gritty location setting, the characters that are all a little 'handy' and the story itself makes for an uncomfortable hour and a half. It's never quite as real as we would like, however, and the otherworldliness about the plans that Joe and Piggy hatch together seem a little contrived. Gerard Johnson's Tony had more gravitas despite the equally absurd storyline, not to mention a more accomplished script. Lest we forget, however, that this is Hawkes debut feature and as such is a very accomplished effort for someone with his experience.
Worth a viewing if you get the opportunity, as it features a few names that you will doubtless hear more of in the future. I look forward to seeing more from everyone mentioned.