Film review by: Witney Seibold



            It’s the 1970s, and a small group of clamdiggers, a near-forgotten profession, are trying desperately to combat the oncoming obsolescence of their job brought on by a mega-corporation moving in on their territory. They all come from long lines of clamdiggers, and know no other world. In fact Hunt’s father has just died, buried in his wading boots. To cope with the inevitable extinction, Hunt (Paul Rudd) takes up his camera again, and flirts with a local possibly-too-young-for-him girl (Lauren Ambrose). Jack (Ron Eldard) continues his habit of seducing anything with breasts, including Hunt’s sister Gina (Maura Tierney). Cons (Josh Hamilton) broods a lot and takes drugs, and Lozo (screenwriter Ken Marino, known for his work on “The State”) yells at his wife and kids more than he usually would.

            This film is sweet and bitterly funny and largely elegiac about a bygone way of life. I never thought I would see a film to put romance into the life of a clamdigger, but here it is, and done very well. Director Katherine Dieckmann brings a halcyon joy along with the broody mournfulness. Kind of like a down-homey, grtis-smelling version of Cameron Crowe. The actors, especially Rudd, give great performances. Marino’s bitter ranting is at once hurtful and kind of funny in how over-the-top it is; something that marked the humor of his TV show. Eldard is a capable supporting actor who should be working more than he is.


“Diggers” feels small, but leaves you moved. And, in an odd way, it felt me feeling nostalgic. Not for the life of a 1970s clamdigger, but for a time when independent film was growing larger and more vital by the day. I’m thinking of the early 1990s when “sex, lies, and videotape” had split the world of indie film open, and independent films were busy telling “new” and “raw” stories. If “Diggers” had been released in 1994, it would have been hailed as a new revolution. As it is, it’s merely a gem.


            “Diggers” was released by Magnolia Pictures, which included it in its new marketing campaign to release the film in theater, on video, and on cable TV simultaneously. If you learn about this film at any time, you can find it on video. I admire this campaign for getting a film to video outlets in cities that may not have independent theaters, and giving people a chance to see it as soon as possible. The trade-off is that theaters may suffer a bit, and the all-present glory of seeing a film in a darkened room on a big screen has been taken away.

             But I digress.           

Published in: on May 25, 2007 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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