Netflix’s The Dig Review: Relationships and Archaeology

The Dig is a drama film directed by Simon Stone and is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston. The novel, and consequently the movie, is based on the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo. The movie stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott, Archie Barnes and Monica Dolan.

If you’re looking to get away from the endless barrage of shows and movies about sex, murder and salacious gossip and want to indulge in something quieter, yet fulfilling, then The Dig might just be your pick.

The Dig follows Edith, an English widow and mother living in Suffolk, whose dreams of becoming an archaeologist were shattered because, well, she was a woman. That, however, did not take away her interest in unearthing what lay underneath her backyard filled with mounds. In comes Basil Brown, an excavator, whose incoming is shortly followed by others. There are drama and bittersweet endings hereafter which leaves you weirdly sad and happy.

The movie, starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, does a lot of things right. It has a touching story which is told well, it has good performances and its cinematography is also excellent. The story itself has its moments where you’ll be glued to the screen, wondering what happens next. It flows smoothly and has its moments of mystery, but it never goes overboard with any of them.

This is, however, where The Dig kind of lacks. The movie does not follow through any of its themes that it introduces. There are matters of class and gender inequality, loneliness as well as sexual repression – the last part really comes through sometimes. Yet, we don’t really see any of them really come to the forefront. The movie takes place just before the start of World War II and although we see and hear glimpses of the war, it’s not a looming danger for the most part.

The Dig
Netflix’s The Dig Review: Relationships and Archaeology 4

The characters are well fleshed out though. You’d be able to feel all of their worries and problems and, for the most part, care for them. Acting-wise, Mulligan and Fiennes do a great job. The whole movie rest on their able shoulders and they pull it off effortlessly. The movie’s other cast, including Lily James and Johnny Flynn, all have their own personal stories to tell and difficulties to overcome that are brought forth with grace. You will tend to care for all of the characters, no matter how small they are.

However, with all said and done, The Dig lacks the spark that might really get it off its feet. The movie is well made, no doubt, but still, there’s something that is seriously lacking. I think it’s mostly because it doesn’t really get into any of its themes that is the problem with me. Thus, if you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping movie, this won’t be the one for you. However, The Dig is filled with nice people who do nice things for each other and so if you want something to hit you in the feels, this might just be the one.

Summing up: The Dig

  • The Dig
  • The Dig

The Dig is a bittersweet watch with great acting and gorgeous cinematography. The story doesn’t go too deep into any of its themes but what we get to see on-screen is pretty satisfactory, considering it’s based on an archaeological find. If you thought that Basil and Edith might end up together, they don’t, surprisingly. However, there is a romance here which feels forced and just not very genuine.

Watch The Dig for gorgeous Suffolk, the brilliant acting and the lovely relationship between Edith and Basil.

The Dig is streaming on Netflix.

Liked The Dig review? Read our other reviews here.




The Dig is an understated and quiet exploration of relationships during a historic excavation. Although it lacks a few sparks, it still manages to touch a few heart strings.

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