Film in review: “The Dig”

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The Winonan’s film reporter rates “The Dig” 3/5.

Noah Mruz, film reviewer

World War II was filled with moments that truly changed the world forever; moments Hollywood loves to visit, both during and surrounding the war. An issue with this abundance of war films is the transitional period between World War I and World War II is often ignored. This time period showcased a great deal of change and anxiety around the world as Germany gave rise to an evil man and as England tried to navigate the complex political situation that ensued.

This period is the setting we find ourselves in Netflix’s “The Dig.” “The Dig” follows British widow,
Edith Pretty, played by Carey Mulligan, as she enlists help from excavator Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to dig up some mounds nearby in the hopes of finding some artifacts. “The Dig” is a wonderful story with a terrific cast and fun imagery but suffers from a slow-paced and boring plot at times.

Leads Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan are excellent in their roles. They play scenes powerfully
and impactfully as they excavate and explore the mounds. The film also features Lily James as Peggy Piggott, an aspiring archeologist and wife of a closeted gay man. She does an excellent job showcasing her character’s emotional depth. Overall, the cast does a great job, but where the film thrives is in its scenery.

There are several moments in the film where the imagery is supported by a voice-over that lends scenes much more depth and impact. Scenes such as Brown talking about his dead father as he
contemplates life alone the next day, or Pretty discussing how she is scared by the short frailty of life.

These voice-over scenes showcase compelling and interesting moments that help keep the viewers’
attention. Other standalone imagery does a wonderful job, but most is featured in the latter half of the film, and I will avoid spoiling any.

This leads directly into the biggest problem with the film, its pacing. Overall, the story of “The Dig”
is entertaining and compelling, but the pacing of the beginning of the movie is incredibly slow and the plot does not pick up until a half hour into the 53-minute film.

The pacing of the film moves so slowly in the beginning, it feels like it’s been closer to an hour of the film before it starts to become truly interesting. While you must take time to build up character relationships to provide context to their later actions and reactions, long-drawn-out shots of a character biking across a plain become boring when repeated ad nauseum. It’s a shame the film begins this way as it becomes compelling later on, but it’s really hard to give the film your full attention when it feels very little is actually happening.

I will be honest with you; I was misinformed going into “The Dig.” I was told it was a movie about
archeologists discovering the first dinosaur bones. The reality is the first bones were found in America nearly a decade before. Despite this, “The Dig” is a great film about a different kind of archeological discovery in pre-World War II England. If it wasn’t for the pacing of this film, I would have been much more pleased.

Sadly, first impressions are everything, and this one lacks a strong one. I am giving “The Dig” a 3 out of 5 stars.