The Dig is a film based on a true story. The events in this film follow Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) in 1939, Suffolk. She is a widower seeking to excavate from the mounds on her property due to her interest in excavation as well as her buying the land with her late husband to someday excavate. Enter Mr Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes). Basil isn’t sure there is anything there, but he’s an excavator who comes from a long line of excavators and if anyone can find unearth anything, he believes it will be him.
The Dig is something of a frustrating film to discuss. On the one hand, it is quite a touching film about the pursuit of one’s dream and passion. Unfortunately, there is rarely any passion in the film which is something of an issue for me.
When you’re telling a story about preserving history and the people who find purpose in this, it needs to be given proper pacing. This is a serious issue with The Dig because, in my opinion, this film shouldn’t be a film at all. This should have been a limited series. This is due to an ever-expanding cast of characters. At first, we have the intimate cast with Basil, Edith and her young son Robert. When the excavation begins to bear fruit an influx of characters decide to appear and their presence adds a deluge of subplots that are nowhere near as compelling as the supposed main narrative surrounding the excavation.
The Dig – We’re digging down to meet the dead
Speaking more on the positives of The Dig I will say it is a beautifully shot film. There is an excellent combination of the score and the scenery to show off the mood of the film. Being set in an England that is about to go to war the score reminded me of the remaining days of Summer, warm but there is frost on the way. There is a particular scene where someone is buried and it is one of the most unnerving scenes I’ve had the pleasure to watch in a long time. It’s simply hypnotic, I do however recommend claustrophobics watch this.
Other noteworthy elements of The Dig include its cast. Fiennes and Mulligan are a particular highlight. Mulligan’s Edith is a woman on a mission. She is driven to find what is buried under the mounds and as the film goes on you come to understand she is searching for so much more than buried treasure. Basil on the other hand is quiet, unassuming but within him is an adventurer and that surprises and impresses many people who meet him. It’s a shame that when the slew of characters makes their entrance it dilutes this duos presence in the film.
As I said previously, The Dig is a frustrating film. Interesting with its place in history, while it is dragged down by some of the more dramatic elements. If you have the opportunity and are a history buff, this weekend is as good as any time to watch this latest film from Netflix.
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