April 14, 2024

THE DIG (2021) – Much to prize over this buried treasure


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Getting two new movies with Carey Mulligan in one month is too good to be true. She is one of my favourite actresses and it is simply great to see her in top form in two very different kind of roles. The Dig is supposed to be based on a True Story about an archaeological find in the farm grounds of Suffolk, England in 1938. I know I know, that sounds like incredibly boring stuff, but under the able hands of director Simon Stone, this is far from dull.

There is a lot to like about The Dig. Firstly, we have the excellent cast headed by Carey Mulligan as the widowed owner of the land, and Ralph Fiennes as the archaeologist employed to help excavate the unusual mounds in the farm land. Their subtle performance makes their characters feel real and I dare say, Oscar worthy. Then, we have the amazing story made even more purposeful and poignant by virtue of it being based on real events. Finally, the photography and images of The Dig are an attraction all on its own. Director Simon Stone has a creative eye and his camera often captures ordinary landscapes from a unique angle forming an image that immediately resonant with the audience. In photography this is termed as using “negative space” which makes the character or main subject appear small but yet more significant. Even the conventional scenes look pretty making The Dig not only intellectually but also visually engaging.

My only minor gripe is what to me felt like an unnecessary injection of a romantic side plot involving one of the excavator’s wife (played by the lovely and always reliable Lily James) and Carey Mulligan’s character’s cousin. I am not sure how much of this is fiction or real, but I felt this could easily have been edited off without affecting the storyline. However, its inclusion did allow for the impending World War II looming in the background to have a more impactful ramification on the story.

The Dig is definitely one of the better original offerings from Netflix and should fit in comfortably with the annual film awards season. Don’t let that intimidate you against watching this as it is far from having the alienating effects of art house movies. This is very watchable and I dare say you will surprisingly enjoy it more than you expect.

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