Movie Review: Digging for Fire.
Release Date: August 21 in NY, LA, and on VOD
Cast: Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Mike Birbiglia, Sam Elliot, Judith Light, Ron Livingston, Melanie Lynskey, Jenny Slate, Tim Simons, and Jane Adams.
Director: Joe Swanberg
Screenplay by: Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson
Running time: 86 minutes
Digging for Fire takes you by surprise in the most unassuming way. It isn’t until after the film is over and you’ve digested what just transpired that you find yourself smiling, thinking about all the nuances you’ve just witnessed. When I first saw the trailer for the film, I was immediately drawn to the mystery of the rusty gun and what appears to be a human bone fragment unearthed in the backyard of a home Tim (Jake Johnson), a public school teacher, and his wife Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt), a yoga instructor, are housesitting. Needless to say, what ensues throughout Digging for Fire caught me off guard in the most pleasant, unexpected way.
What seems like a movie about a marriage potentially going bust is quite the opposite. Digging for Fire provides a realistic look into Tim and Lee’s marriage as they cope with the daily grind of being parents and doing their taxes while maintaining their individuality. More often than not in a marriage, you begin to lose part of yourself as you grow more as a collective. Digging for Fire examines how Tim and Lee separately deal with the things life throws at them during a causal weekend apart. One of the interesting and relevant topics discussed in the film is whether public school or private school is best for Tim and Lee’s three-year old son Jude— played by director Joe Swanberg’s son Jude Swanberg. Jude is absolutely adorable; when he does yoga poses, he is beyond cute.
I must call out Johnson, DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, and Mike Birbiglia on their spectacular performances. When Tim decides to have a small house party instead of getting the dreaded taxes done, each of the friends who arrive has their own unique way of supporting him. Well, Ray (Rockwell) not so much since he brings another friend and two young women to the soiree. Phil (Birbiglia) had me laughing out loud with his endearing absurdity, especially during the scene with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a hamburger bun; it really cracked me up. Even guys have to watch their figures in L.A. and Phil knows how many “weight watchers points” goes into that bun! But Phil is a good friend, even if he’s a bit obtuse. He doesn’t want Tim to do something he’ll regret with one of the two young women that Ray invites to the soiree.
Digging for Fire has an extremely star-studded cast and while their onscreen time is brief, each has a specific role to play in this very off-the-cuff film. Most of the dialogue is improvised and immensely entertaining. When Lee goes to her parents’ house, played by Judith Light and Sam Elliott, each of them gives her advice about the private vs. public school dilemma. As Lee’s plans for a girls’ night out with her friend (played by Melanie Lynsky) go awry, her solo adventure leads her to an chance encounter with Ben (Orlando Bloom). I’m so glad Bloom kept his British accent. I love when foreign actors keep their respective accents when doing movie or television roles. DeWitt and Bloom have good onscreen chemistry, displayed perfectly by the awkward sensual tension between them—first at the bar where Ben becomes a hero, and then later, during their impromptu dinner and subsequent walk on the beach. Swanberg and Johnson’s outlined script has a narrow degree of separation between some of the characters, something I find interesting. Bloom is absolutely delightful. I could sit and listen to or watch him read a phone book any day.
While Digging for Fire provides many entertaining and humorous moments, an undercurrent of mystery vibrates throughout the film, providing for some intense, yet funny scenes. As Tim continues to dig for more clues and evidence of a murder, his ominous neighbor Tom (Tom Bower) warns him about looking for trouble since some things are better left buried.
If you’re looking for a good film with terrific acting, dialogue, and direction, without all the CGI getting in the way, then Digging for Fire is it. It’s just a damn good, hilarious movie.
For more on this film and other films from The Orchard, go to http://www.theorchard.com/film-and-tv-distribution/.