Based on John Preston’s novel and written for the screen by Moira Buffini, The Dig is a handsomely crafted drama about the precious things that lurk beneath the surface of emotionally scarred people and the undulations of our green and pleasant land.
The first half, which concentrates on the dynamic between Carey Mulligan’s terminally-ill widow and Ralph Fiennes’ pipe-smoking archaeologist, is the most compelling, galvanised by understated yet winning performances from the two leads.
Once the film’s canvas broadens to include a larger company of supporting characters, emotional rewards become less plentiful although Mike Eley’s cinematography retains its warming glow.
Director Simon Stone evokes the period with elan and he offers constant reminders of the spectre of war that could wrench apart fragile relationships across the class divide including one tragic interlude in The Broads.
Rating: Three stars