'Buffalo' Gal’s Hypersensitive Misfits Dig Their Own Holes

Against expectations: Bagnall
photo: Rufus Standefer/This Little Piggie
Against expectations: Bagnall

A movie refreshingly lacking in social graces, Piggie uses the transparency of video to x-ray the psyches of characters obsessed with the essence of things. The feature debut of Alison Bagnall, who co-wrote Vincent Gallo's Buffalo '66, Piggie is similarly sympathetic to hypersensitive types given to inappropriate outbursts. Sex and death lurk everywhere, and even a seemingly low- key dinner is prone to end with a character casually observing that it's "natural to feel black inside." Co-writer Savannah Haske plays Fannie, a small-town misfit obsessed with finding her first boyfriend, who fixates on Nile (Dean Wareham, of Galaxie 500 and Luna), a stranger just arrived in the area, origins and intentions unknown. The prickly Nile is not exactly boyfriend material, and a painfully comic "first date" unsurprisingly ends in disaster. Events are obliquely foreshadowed and scenes develop against expectations throughout, rendering the suddenly incident-packed final third less jolting than it might otherwise have seemed. Wareham and Haske are both exceptional, the camera lingering on the latter's blank, wide-eyed stares long enough to provoke audience discomfort. It's a painfully acute performance, evoking those awkward moments of adolescent non-communication when you can't stop talking despite knowing each word is merely digging you into a deeper hole.

 
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