The Dig (Drama, History, Biography) [True Story] (2021)
Director: Simon Stone
Writer: Moira Buffini (Screenplay), John Preston (Based on Novel by)
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, Danny Webb, Lily James
It is 1938 and as the world prepared for war Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) has been hired to excavate the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial sites. At the time, the land is owned by Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) who has always been interested in these mounds, one, in particular, has caught her eye and despite Brown trying to persuade her to pick a different mound to start with they start digging.
Directed by Simon Stone as his third ever film, he tells this true story calmly with patience, style, and in a succinct yet protracted manner. Netflix’s The Dig features Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown proving how much range he truly has; it is honestly incredible. Not taking anything away from the other actors, as Carey Mulligan in her role of widow Edith Pretty convincingly portrays a woman with the gut feeling and wish of seeing the archaeological sites excavated before the end of her life as she is ill.
The quiet and almost homely feel The Dig has centred around the inherited estate with the pensive Mrs Pretty residing in the home cared for by her servants. Basil offsets her character with his peculiar ways and unique perspective, as mentioned early on in the film. Despite the lengthy running time this period, the drama never fails to keep the viewer engaged, introducing an abundance of new characters shortly after the first part of the hidden treasure is unveiled. The characters warrant more diversity, and several storylines never feeling caked on or overly obvious, The dig certainly has plenty left for the viewer to devise.
The additions to the initial plot create a good midway point, also adding to the existing story arc. While it is certainly entertaining, it does seem to lose some momentum. It almost misses that special spark that could’ve made The Dig one of the standouts this year. Despite that, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll see the film be a popular choice during Oscar season and it will most likely land on my list.
Here and there it seemed like more attention could’ve been on the archaeological dig itself. It is clear that drama was at the forefront here, and the final act drives that point home, letting the inevitable come around as the plot comes to a natural ending.
I dig it.