The Dig (2021) Review

Despite the rather boring name, this film is surprisingly good and boasts some really great performances.

Certificate: 12A

Director: Simon Stone

Screenwriter: Moira Buffini (screenplay), John Preston (novel)

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James

Genre: Biography, History

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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An amateur archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938 on the eve of the Second World War. Once word gets around of their amazing find, representatives from the local museum in Ipswitch and from the British Museum try to take control of the site in order to secure the amazing findings for themselves.


This film is a lot more than the title would lead you to believe.  Yes, the main driving element behind the film is the discovery and excavation of the buried ship.  But it isn’t this narrative that keeps the viewer interested or invested.  No archaeological dig in the world could keep the average movie goer enraptured for nearly two hours on it’s own.  No, it’s the superb character work and their personal relationships that are oddly captivating here.

At it’s heart this is a story about a mothers love for her son, a man’s love of his work, a wife’s love and understanding of her husband and all the bits in between.  Through their mutual fascination of the dig, this small cast of characters’ lives all become intertwined and superb acting all round plus some really great writing means that is enough to really draw in an audience.  Yes, a lot of the characters are a little superficial, we get very little information of the back stories for any of them outside of what is relevant to the current story, but that doesn’t stop you from getting completely invested in their stories.

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This film boasts a really impressive cast.  Carey Mulligan, right off the back of her outstanding performance in ‘Promising Young Woman’ gives yet another amazing turn as Edith Pretty, showing again her impressive range as an actress.  Ralph Fiennes plays Basil Brown, and although the accent can be a little flummoxing at times, he too gives a great an impassioned performance.  These two, when together on screen were just a joy to watch.  Lily James, although given a smaller role, gives a great emotional performance as well.

Not nearly as boring as the premise would have you think, fans of historical dramas or biopics will definitely love this, but I would implore anyone to give this a watch.

‘The Dig’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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