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The Dig

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom · 2021
1h 52m
Director Simon Stone
Starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn
Genre Drama, History

A British widow on the eve of World War II hires a self-taught archaeologist to dig up mysterious formations on her land that leads to a staggering discovery. A powerful, melancholic period drama about a woman who sticks to her guns and won’t take no for an answer.

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What are critics saying?


Arizona Republic by Bill Goodykoontz

Simon Stone’s film, about a famous archaeological discovery, has an excellent cast, led by Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and Lily James, all in top form. It takes place just as England is entering World War II, so there’s that, too. And since this evidently isn’t enough, some romance gets tacked on, as well.


Screen Daily by Fionnuala Halligan

Australian director Simon Stone’s (The Daughter) film delivers strong performances – from Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan in particular – and top-level craft, but with an undercurrent of real emotion which sensitively conveys the fragility of lives and time. To use another of those abused words, it’s captivating.


The A.V. Club by Katie Rife

For all the film’s sweeping, romantic ideas, the actual experience of watching The Dig is a lot like sitting at a bus stop.


Washington Post by Michael O'Sullivan

Gradually, and with the methodical patience of someone unearthing buried treasure with a tiny brush, The Dig reveals itself to be a story of love and estrangement, of things lost and longed for, of life and death — of what lasts and what doesn’t.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

The Dig is actually not a very earthy film, though there is intelligence and sensitivity and a good deal of English restraint and English charm, thoroughly embodied by the fine leading performers Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes.


Variety by Peter Debruge

It’s hard to say whether the period this picture exhumes was any more innocent than what the world now faces, but that’s certainly the way Stone plays it, acting like an urbane orchidologist, cross-breeding contemporary art-house touches with the old-school refinement of a vintage Masterpiece Theatre production. Sometimes the best escape from the craziness of today is to lose oneself in history.


The Telegraph by Robbie Collin

The shape of its story is ultimately conventional, and the way in which it’s told can sometimes feel familiar – like a Sunday evening drama smuggling in big ideas. But the line it draws between the earthy and the ethereal stays with you: it’s a well-timed double dose of consolation and escape.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

Mulligan — drawn, wan and yet steely here — and Fiennes’ lightly-laid-on sturdy working class polymath turn make The Dig touching and richly rewarding, as entertaining as any movie about archeology could be without a bullwhip.

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