I’m a huge fan of Joe Swanberg. Since I first saw one of his movies, I’ve made sure to see every one he puts out. I like them all, to one extent or another, but the first one I truly fell in love with was 2013’s Drinking Buddies. It was Swanberg’s first movie with true Hollywood stars, which meant it was the first of his films less-than-hardcore film fans might stumble upon, and which meant it combined his ability to tell small stories but do so with a bigger budget.
Digging for Fire once again features some mainstream Hollywood actors, which (hopefully!) means more people will discover this movie. I hope this because it’s probably Swanberg’s best movie to date, and one of my all-time favorites of his.
Co-written by the film’s star Jake Johnson, Digging for Fire follows Johnson and his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) through one weekend in their less-than-perfect marriage. Along the way, all of Swanberg’s usual crew (plus some new friends!) pop in: Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Sam Elliott, Orlando Bloom, Ron Livingston, Ron Livingston, Jenny Slate, Tim Simons… I only list so many people (and I could go on!) because you should realize this is par for the course with Swanberg’s films: they’re realistic snapshots of life filled with people you love. Digging for Fire, like most of Swanberg’s movies, was completely improvised: the actors only had a four page treatment to work from. What could seem like a disaster instead creates a very real, textured movie that’s filled with natural (and great) performances.
Digging for Fire is just 85 minutes long, but it feels far shorter than that. The film has a tremendous score that keeps you engaged the entire time and the scenes fly by. It’s available now in select theaters and on VOD. If you’re looking for a great little movie to watch this weekend, I highly recommend this one: it’s worth your time.