‘The Dig’ makes up for slow plot with heartwarming relationships and stellar performances for history-lovers


Stories based in reality tend to capture viewers like no other, and director Simon Stone’s “The Dig,” a period drama about a history-altering excavation, is no different. Starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, it is a fascinating story that has captivated audiences worldwide. Although slow-paced, “The Dig” makes up for what it lacks in action with a brilliant plot, a beautiful score and fantastic performances.

“The Dig” is set in the greying backdrop of Suffolk, England on the eve of World War II. Edith Pretty, a well-off widower, hires Basil Brown, a self-taught archaeologist, to excavate mysterious dirt piles on her expansive estate. What they discover changes English archaeological studies forever. Along for the ride is Robert, Pretty’s young son, who sees Brown as a stand-in for his deceased father. Their heartwarming relationship is one of the best aspects of the film. 

“The Dig” is set apart by its incredible performances. Leading the cast list is Fiennes, who delivers a fantastic performance as Basil Brown, perfectly capturing the intelligence and skill of a self-taught yet masterful archaeologist. Mulligan’s performance is similarly impressive, as she skillfully conveys the emotions of the soft-spoken, still-grieving Edith Pretty.

If there’s one place in which “The Dig” is lacking, it is plot movement. Although a historical drama is hardly expected to be action-packed, the plot line started to drag around the middle of the movie. However, superb acting and strong character dynamics eventually propelled the storyline forward.

Another aspect of “The Dig” that sets it apart is an outstanding subplot involving the blooming romance between Peggy Preston, a married assistant excavator, and Rory Lomax, Pretty’s young cousin, a photographer who is preparing to be sent off to war. The dynamic between the two is a prime example of Stone’s ability to brilliantly showcase character relationships. Furthermore, Lily James delivers a spectacular performance as the lovably nerdy Preston, while Johnny Flynn perfectly captures the fearful yet excited state of a young man being sent to war.

Overall, I would recommend “The Dig” to any film-lover, especially those that enjoy history. Despite being relatively slow, “The Dig” is a great viewing experience with fantastic acting and direction that will leave audiences happy.