Warsaw Talents 2019 – Crime & Punishment

A Review of The Pig by Oleksandra Povoroznyk 

Dragomir Sholev’s The Pig throws you headfirst into the smelly locker-rooms, noisy cafeterias and claustrophobic bathrooms of your past – even if you’ve never lived in a post-soviet state and your school looked nothing like the one shown here.   

Rumen (Rumen Georgiev) spends his mornings in his grandmother’s kitchen, obediently eating up whatever the kindly old lady serves. As soon as breakfast is over, he’ll have to face the bullies who make his life hell. As if the subject wasn’t unpleasant enough, the camera follows Rumen so closely you’d think it was a first-person shooter video game. Sholev forgets about this stylistic choice after a while, but the first half-hour of the movie’s a visceral experience that leaves the viewer seasick.  

Rumen generally takes the humiliation without protest, but one day the boy decides to fight back – possibly with deadly consequences. The idea of a tormented individual wreaking havoc on their bullies isn’t new, but what stories like this never get around to showing is what happens after the initial rage and payback.  

That’s what Sholev’s screenplay takes on. After the protagonist hits back at a classmate and realizes he went too far, he flees into the woods to figure out what to do next. It’s an enticing concept – and an unexpectedly timely one. The problem is that Sholev doesn’t offer answers. After a promising beginning, The Pig turns into a sequence of vignettes, each one repeating the same worn-out thought: ‘bullying is bad’. It would have worked as a short, but after two hours, the premise feels old. 

Oleksandra Povoroznyk 
Warsaw Critics Project 2019