Piggy – Review

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Before the premiere screening of Piggy, the debut of London Film School graduate Kieron Hawkes, the director took to the stage and jokingly commented that his maiden film was an expression of his own dark and twisted thoughts on screen. Quite fitting for what was to come then, as this slow-burning, emotionally charged and brutally violent tale of vengeance and redemption is every bit as disturbed as it’s director suggests.

Following the trend of recent British, or more specifically London, cinema; Piggy very much treads a familiar path down the shadowy urban walkways of our capital city, painting a picture of a desperate London, a lonely London and a city where excessive violence and confrontation are only a misplaced foot, or in this case a chair, away. It tells the story of Joe (Martin Compston), a fearfully quiet young man who feels to blame for the murder of his older and adored brother (Neil Maskell) after an innocent altercation in a London pub. Enter Piggy (Paul Anderson), an old friend of Joe’s brother who vows to help him enact revenge on the men who ferociously ended his brother’s life and consequently ruined his own. As their journey of bloody and brutal vengeance develops, Joe’s very existence is engulfed by Piggy’s promise of closure on his brothers death and the consequent emotional fulfilment that will follow.

The film is every much as dark and grimy as recent British cinema gets. With a constant murky tint, an explicitly haunting soundtrack coupled with some extremely graphic violence, Kieron Hawkes’ depiction of London is how we all fear it to be: Deadly.



Unrelenting in its brutality, Hawkes superbly manages to finely balance the visceral violence with an emotional sensitivity. As the crux of the story is a man who lost his brother for no real reason, the journey of Joe is interesting and often heart breaking to witness unfold. It’s a story that isn’t overly detached from reality, so when given the option of revenge by the mysterious visitor in Piggy, Joe’s decision is one that many would ponder if faced with such a scenario. A lot of credit must be handed to Hawkes then, purely for having the balls to explore what might be if one was to take justice in their own hands. Approaching the story with such an unashamed honesty, he pulls it off with aplomb and as a result, Piggy is a no-holds barred portrayal of one man’s wrestle with a perception of justice.

Paul Anderson is superb as the title character.

While Joe’s evolution from a fearful, timid character into a ruthless and aggressive avenger, is an honest, empathetic and above all believable performance from Compston, it is Paul Anderson’s exceptional turn as Piggy that makes the film stand out from the crowd of other British urban thrillers. From the moment Joe opens the door, and with it his life and psyche, to Piggy, Anderson delivers the sort of performance that sends chills down the spine. Put simply, he is fantastic. Eccentric, unpredictable and even humorous from the off, we are compelled to like him despite knowing that we should feel the complete opposite, much like Joe himself.

Sitting alongside other top-notch British films like Dead Man’s Shoes and the more recent Harry Brown and even The Glass Man, it is very much a movie sans the Hollywood gloss with the “British Grit” cranked up to 11. Visually, the film looks fantastic. With some very stark, impactful shots, Hawkes has made a very polished looking film considering it’s very modest budget. To have maximised this to such a level is a credit to both the man himself and the evidently talented team behind him, as some multi-million pound films could only hope of looking, and sounding, as good as this. It wouldn’t be unfair to liken Kieron Hawkes to a southern version of Shane Meadows, then. As like Dead Man’s Shoes, Piggy deals with similar themes but with a certain Southern sensibility. I wouldn’t say Piggy is as impactful or as original as Shane Meadow’s 2004 masterpiece; (a seemingly forced love interest with a capable Louise Dylan appears somewhat trivial) but for a first time outing as Writer/Director, Hawkes must be a very proud man, and rightly so.

It will be interesting to see what else the mind of Kieron Hawkes has to offer, and by going off this ferocious debut, it definitely won’t be for the squeamish. ****

Piggy is released in cinemas on May 4th. 


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