Graceful, restrained, and eloquent: The tone, aesthetic, and delivery of this drama match that of its aristocratic main character. Magnificently well-woven, the complexities of the story also resemble the excavation -- it's slow and steady, and we must keep brushing away the dust and pay close attention to slight details to discover the inner lives of the subjects. Intense feelings are bubbling under the surface but never expressed. Even the slights and jabs directed at gender and class are understated.
While little is said in The Dig, much is understood ... and yet it's hard to distinguish exactly what it's trying to say. Gentle whispers that we live on through our actions blow around like dandelion fuzz, contrasting sharply with the abundance of blatant metaphors. For example, a short time after Brown speaks with Edith about potential riches to be found buried in the mound, the dirt collapses on him, and she digs him out -- yep, Mr. Brown is the real treasure here. Less obvious is director Simon Stone's choice to play dialogue over scenes in which the characters are shown not speaking. Once or twice, sure. But used repeatedly, the device becomes disconcerting. Still, The Dig is artful, elegant, and educational. All of this may sound enticing if you're an adult, but expect kids to be a bit confounded by the nuance. Reading between the lines isn't usually the strong suit of the young, and so for them to get the most out of the film, this is a gem that may need to stay undiscovered until they're a tad older.