The thing I can't out of my head. The old Croghan man, preserved in a bog for thousands of years. Niamh could look as if she buried her yesterday, or she could be bone, her eyes rotted... The Land decides.

The Dig ( 2019 )

  |   Aug. 26, 2019

Brothers Ryan and Andy Tohill are the directors of The Dig, a tale set in the barren landscape of Northern Ireland. Moe Dunford stars as Ronan Callahan, a man who returns home to his abandoned family farm after 15 years in prison for murder. Time hasn't healed any wounds amongst the small community. The people still remember, and they haven't forgiven. As he tries to piece his life together, Callahan makes a grim discovery, His victim’s father, Séan, is digging holes in his land, still searching for her body. Callahan couldn't reveal the location of her body if he wanted, he was blind drunk and has simply no idea. The only thing he can do, the only thing that makes any sense, is to dig as well. He quickly finds that he desperately needs to find her too, to put his own demons to rest. The two men are bound together by their dark toil, and by their hatred, despair, and obsession. They're the only ones who can understand why they must be do it.

The movie's tone takes its cue from the bleak, somber countryside that our characters inhabit, and the land takes on a mythical presence. The lives of the characters revolve around it, it gives and it takes away, and it seems only it can choose to give up its secrets to the desperate diggers. As Séan points out, it alone decides if the remains he'll find should be perfectly conserved, resembling his daughter Niamh, or whether all that's left to see ultimately will be bones. Séan's second daughter Roberta is a buffer between the men. She can't forgive Ronan for what he's done, but she's the only one to show him any kindness in the movie. In their meetings, they take a trip through the past and their shared upbringing. We see what could have been were it not for the fateful night that brought us to the dire situation. The tight cast is completed by Murphy, the local Garda, who acts more like a Sheriff, trying to keep some order amidst the tension.

The Dig comes agonisingly close to a complete and powerful journey to redemption for the characters of the tale. Even if it feels at times like it could benefit from a lighter narrative touch, it's still a devastating exploration of trauma and obsession, set in a rugged and unforgiving landscape. However, it loses its nerve as we near the climax, and the careful craft of its story is abandoned for an easy solution to a conflict it had worked so hard to construct.

Directed by
Andy Tohill
Ryan Tohill
Starring
Moe Dunford
Francis Magee
Lorcan Cranitch
Emily Taaffe
Runtime: 97 minutes
The Dig (2019) on IMDb