Spoiler Warning: Piggy (2022)
Piggy, the Spanish-French thriller written and directed by Carlota Pereda, brilliantly reveals some of the worst sides of people when a series of gruesome crimes are committed in a small community. Ultimately though, it’s a film about bullying and the dangers that bullying presents. And not just to the most direct victims but to everyone in a world where bullying is allowed to go on unabated.
The main character, Sara (Laura Galán), is an overweight teen whose family owns a butcher shop in town. From the start, it’s clear that she does not fit in with her peers. She has lost her once best friend, Claudia, to the popular clique. Sara’s parents seem oblivious to Sara’s struggles, acting as if Sara and Claudia are still best friends despite the fact they clearly do not hang out anymore. But when a mysterious stranger witnesses Sara being bullied by those popular girls – to the point that Sara is nearly drowned – well, Sara’s problems are far from solved. Still, she’ll certainly no longer be the only victim.
When Sara goes to the local pool for a swim, the only other person there is a strange man already in the water. But when Claudia and two other girls show up and start bullying Sara, teasing her that she’s dating the stranger in the water, the stranger quickly leaves.
Once the stranger has left the water, the bullying escalates. One of the bullies tries to drown Sara, leaving her too frantic and scared to notice that there’s a dead body in the water with her. If she had noticed, perhaps she, her bullies, and the community at large could have known what danger they were in before it was too late. Petty bullying is not only a catalyst for many of the dangers to come, but it blinds the characters to the future in store for them.
The Wrong Choice Can Be Easy
Sara’s female tormentors finally leave her at the pool, but they steal her things, leaving Sara to walk home in nothing but the bikini she wore to swim. Sara has to walk barefoot back into town with nothing to cover her. Though the girls have disappeared with her items rather quickly, Sara is soon spotted by her tormentors’ boyfriends, who chase her down with a car on an otherwise deserted road before jumping out of the vehicle to try to remove Sara’s bathing suit.
Sara is able to get away, but just barely. However, she finds herself on a more secluded path, where she discovers her female tormentors have been abducted by the mysterious stranger (Richard Holmes) from the pool. When Sara realizes what happened, the stranger and Sara lock eyes for a moment; Sara can object and try to do something for her bullies, or she can pretend she does not see anything. The stranger hands her something to cover herself up with, the first act of kindness Sara receives in the course of the film from anyone. She makes her choice, and it’s pretty easy; even if she wanted to help the people who almost killed her, how will she face an actual murderer after a whole morning of being nearly bullied to death herself?
Everyone Wants to Be Loved
Throughout the film, Sara seems to face bullying from all quarters. First, Sara is bullied by her peers. Later, when she tries to talk about the bullying, her mother takes it as an excuse to put Sara on a ridiculous diet – bullying Sara for the mere act of wanting help. And when the community at large realizes that Sara may be the last person to see the missing girls alive, well, they do not leave her alone either.
The only person in the whole movie that treats Sara with kindness, over and over, is the murderer. He gave her the cover-up, he leaves snack cakes on her window-sill for her, and he’s the one that will take revenge on her bullies possible. Sara isn’t a bad person, but when bullying can alienate a person from their community, it can be hard to distinguish one’s true allies.
Doing the Right Thing Shouldn’t Be Heartbreaking
By the end, Sara does have some feelings for the murderer, and it’s clear he has them for her as well. But when faced with the fact he wants to help her murder her tormentors, she knows she has to fight him. And she does. She fights to save two of the girls who nearly drowned her, and she fights to clear her name, and in the process, she loses the one person who was kind to her.
In the end, it’s easy to be proud of Sara for accomplishing what she does despite the way she was treated, but the question remains whether any of it had to happen at all.
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