Director: Simon Stone
I really enjoyed Stone’s only other directorial credit, The Daughter, which he wrote as well; it’s honestly much stronger than his second film, The Dig, which he did not write and which came out on Netflix. Do you get the feeling that streaming services are dumping movies in our laps without giving their creators the time to craft, edit, mold, perfect, prepare? This is a film that could have done with more TLC, more an eye for detail, and perhaps less hurry. That said, Stone is obviously very talented, and he’s quite the intelligent storyteller, even if I didn’t love the entirety of his newest project.
As WWII approaches, rich widow Edith Pretty decides that, before the war begins and such frivolities must end, she will have the ancient mounds on her property excavated. Her husband died, she herself is sick, her son is a lovely boy, there just needs to be some life at the big house, and the mounds are a mystery that needs solved. So she hires a local professional digger named Basil Brown to do the work, even though he’s not a prestigious archeologist. He knows what he’s doing though, and soon uncovers the find of the century, putting the little English town on the map and stirring the imaginations of so many to whom this little event means so much, especially before such a cataclysmic global challenge.
Stone knows his work, and these actors know their jobs, that’s not the problem with The Dig; it’s just a bit dull. Especially in the middle, when the story becomes stagnant and the characters’ personal lives become important, that’s when it really started to make me yawn. The beginning, the end, those were fantastic, I actually got caught up in the climax and it got me a little emotion, which helped save my feelings about the film in general. And the set up was nice, the true story is charming, the actors are, of course, great, we know them and their value. But the middle simply sagged under the weight of the story, and Stone wasn’t able to pump up the emotional volume without creating cliches at the same time. Then again, he didn’t write it, and the screenplay was based on a book, so that stretches it even further, which it couldn’t handle. Still, Lily James popped by for a visit about half way through, that was nice, she’s always lovely, but even she wasn’t enough to send the movie to someplace magical where it would actually live in our memories.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆