February seems to always be the month when watching slower movies seems to be easiest — perhaps it’s because Oscar season (in a normal year) would have been upon us by now, and we would be making our way through the list of contenders. Perhaps it is the notion that it is finally colder here in Los Angeles and thus, there is something about the weather that makes wanting to sit down for something that is not a jam-packed action hit that sets up the perfect mood.
Perhaps it is the fact that even if we had no idea what we were going in for with The Dig, a cast like Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Flynn, and Lily James among others would immediately gravitate us towards it. Or perhaps even, it is the stunning poster that tells audiences that whatever is ahead, this film is going to make you feel and it is going to make you feel strongly, and that is always right up our alley here.
The Dig is slow and quiet at times, but it is beautiful and evocative. It is based on John Preston’s novel, which is based on the true story of excavating Sutton Hoo (the buried ship found in England), and it is a film that does a riveting job of showcasing the process of archeology. Part of viewing this film after its premiere meant I got to search for opinions — what did actual archaeologists think of this film? When something is seen on TV and film, so often when it appears to be as beautifully done as The Dig is, you wonder of its accuracy and you wonder of its reality. We all wanted to be Lara Crofts and Indiana Jones at some point in our lives (still do to a degree), but we also know how much of it is fabricated.
But more than that, The Dig is a film about human relationships and it is a film about uncovering parts of people, too. It is a film about an ill mother wondering, more than anything else, what she could do for her son should her time come. It is a film about a rather awkward marriage (Escaping the casting of Cinderella 2015 proved to be both difficult and jarring!). And it is a film about celebrating what humanity does when people uncover something. How will you be remembered? Who will know your name?
Where it is slow throughout and you get to marvel at the stunning costumes, it is far from slow in its ending, which was one of the film’s strongest moments as we were given the film’s message boldly through its credits. It gets you thinking, more than anything, how you contribute to something bigger than yourself. How you leave your mark–where you leave your mark.
It screams, quietly through its stunning cinematography and the showcase of excavation that there is a longing we all experience to uncover something bigger than ourselves. Something we could treasure — something the world can treasure. Something that can be contributed to an even bigger cause. The Dig is quiet — it is probably not what one can expect from its trailer, but it is haunting and beautiful in the larger themes it uncovers throughout its two-hour run. A must-watch indeed.
The Dig is now streaming on Netflix.