Review by C.J. Bunce

What appeared from its movie trailer to be a dramatic account of a real-life British archaeological discovery from the early 1940s is actually so much more.  Based on a novel by John Preston, The Dig finds Carey Mulligan (Doctor Who, Promising Young Woman) as Edith Pretty, a widow whose estate she initially purchased to one day excavate the giant mounds that sat upon it–to pursue her and her husband’s interest in archaeology.  These mounds were once thought to possibly hold artifacts or remains from as far back as the Roman imperial era.  She enlists the help of an excavator approaching the end of his career, Basil Brown, played by Ralph Fiennes (Skyfall, Schindler’s List, The English Patient, Harry Potter).  What they unearth becomes the greatest discovery from British antiquity, but this isn’t a rousing adventure like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  While it shows the slow process and procedure behind an actual dig, the film explores life at the precipice of change, missed and almost missed opportunities, the fleeting nature of life, and the survival of humanity through what we leave behind.  It’s a powerful film that merits consideration for Best Picture when the Oscars are announced next month, and possibly other nods (the 2020 Oscars contenders include films released through February 28, 2021).  It’s easily the best dramatic film in the past 14 months.

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