Digging for Fire
Directed by Joe Swanberg
Tim and Lee are married with a young child. The chance to stay at a fancy home in the Hollywood Hills is complicated by Tim's discovery of a bone and a rusty old gun in the yard. Tim is excited by the idea of a mystery, but Lee doesn't want him to dig any further, preferring that he focus on the family taxes, which he promised to do weeks ago. This disagreement sends them on separate and unexpected adventures over the course of a weekend, as Tim and his friends seek clues to the mystery while Lee searches for answers to the bigger questions of marriage and parenthood.
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★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
my first thought: Joe Swanberg's EYES WIDE SHUT.
my second thought, after reading a few reviews: i may never recover from how basic i feel about calling this Joe Swanberg's EYES WIDE SHUT. my life has taken a dark turn. all is lost.
but this is a delightful, succinct, TOGETHERNESS-lite riff on the ebb and flow of middle-class marriage. star-studded and white bread. also, i think i *get* Brie Larson, now. though, as a lactose intolerant, i'm still not over the moon about when people share the name of a cheese.
★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd
If I'm being totally honest here, Digging for Fire came completely out of left field for me. What was supposed to be just a filler to kill time between the bland Z for Zachariah and the epic 80's-gasm of Turbo Kid ended up taking me completely by surprise. This clever mix of Woody Allen and Force Majeure turned out to be an incredible human dramedy that examines two very different stories, and yet one doesn't manage to direct the attention from the other. Both stories flow in their own way, and seem to coincide perfectly with each other. The abundance of comedy, mixed with just the right amount of heartfelt drama, makes it a near perfect blend.
The mystery of the bone and gun presented in Digging for Fire doesn't delve into who did it, but rather what was it. Tim (Jake Johnson) becomes overcome with a nagging obsession over what he found buried in this backyard, much to his wife Lee's (Rosemarie DeWitt) dismay. She becomes so frazzled with his eccentric obsessions that she takes a brief hiatus with their son and retires to her parents' home. This is where the film breaks into its two separate stories. Divorce is frequently the topic of conversation with Lee and her mother, and we are left to wonder what will become of their marriage. Meanwhile, Tim has a never-ending flow of uninvited guests appearing in their rented home for an unplanned party. The night becomes increasingly wild for Tim, and his friends show no sign of wanting to depart from the premises. They actually manage to start helping Tim with his macabre quest to solve this mystery, and Tim starts to look at his own personal relationships a little closer.
Digging for Fire never bores, and rarely drags along, considering the hilariously jovial nature of a lot of the dialogue. Most of the film focuses on Tim's impromptu party, and the repercussions and results therein. Lee meets a few new faces, and slowly delves into the consideration of divorce even more, although we aren't really given any indication of a truly fractured marriage outside of a brief scuffle in the beginning about tax filing. There must be something deeper within Lee's apparently kleptomaniac nature that isn't fully explained in the film, but in the end, I don't care. It's a fun, genuine dramedy that doesn't intend to bore its audience with overly inflated expositions, and it succeeds in that respect. It's a funny film that had me chuckling at some of the more insane moments with Tim, and had me entranced with its humanly dramatic story with Lee. I've no doubt that this will turn out to be a terribly underrated film, or at the very least, underseen. It's a potentially fantastic dramedy that succeeds and charms on every front.
★★★½ review by Kurdt on Letterboxd
I mentioned in a review for Swanberg's Nights And Weekends that he was sort of the equivalent of a modern day Rohmer, and with Drinking Buddies and now Digging For Fire he's kind of on his way to making his own indie moral tales. The former was very Rohmer-esque, focusing on feelings between friends in separate relationships, while here it's revolving around temptation with the added quirk of a possible human body buried in the ground. Jake Johnson (the best) and Rosemarie DeWitt play husband and wife that basically go on separate adventures where both lead to crossroads and major moral decisions they have to make, along with some spiritual enlightenment. Swanberg seems to have permanently moved on from his mumblecore origins and has began making more mature films. While I like a good chunk of his earlier work (All The Light In The Sky, Nights And Weekends especially), sometimes it felt like he was trying too hard to be quirky and adhere to the mumblecore 'rules' (the atrocious Kissing On The Mouth), but with his last two films it feels like he's pulled himself back, and now isn't afraid to make a simpler, gentler film with a touch more subtly and a few more laughs. As long as he keeps making films with the same people featured here (seriously how good is this cast) then he'll be in good stead for years to come. Extra marks for naming a film after a Pixies song, those same marks relinquished for not using said song.
★★★½ review by metalmeatwad on Letterboxd
Hey there Little Red Riding Hood, you sure are looking good
Digging For Fire feels like a more complex and meaningful feature length take on the Sandler/Dewitt story from Men, Women & Children + a musical score that made me quite moist.
Jake Johnson, I'm so proud you! ♥♥♥
★★★★ review by Matt Conway on Letterboxd
"I'm just waiting to get my life back."
Easily Joe Swanberg's biggest project to date, but also one of his best. Digging for Fire is a great relationship drama, with both Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt delivering excellent performances. Most films with two different arcs feel uneven, yet Swanberg is able to mesh them perfectly, and both are equally thoughtful.
Most of Swanberg's efforts suffer from their slight nature, but here he seems to really be grabbing some bigger ideals. His insights into relationships and marriage are equal parts insightful as they are honest. He is really developing into a polished filmmaker, while still keeping his honest mumblecore roots.
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