Half-way through Diggers you may come to the realization that this is a story going nowhere. There isn’t any driving motivation, epiphany, or outside dramatic event that will radically change the lives of the film's main characters. But at nearly the next moment, you'll realize that you don’t much care. What is here, while not particularly original or multi-layered, is a very pleasant way to pass ninety minutes.
Paul Rudd leads a spot-on cast as Hunt, a third generation clam digger living and working in 1976 Long Island, who is watching big business edge out the trade he learned from his father and grandfather. Hunt doesn’t seem particularly engaged by digging, but also fears moving away from the only life he’s ever known. The death of his father jolts him into striking up a relationship with a party girl visiting from Manhattan (Lauren Ambrose), who encourages him to do more with the black-and-white Polaroids he takes. Hunt also sees his relationship with his sister (Maura Tierney) strained by her relationship with his friend Jack (Ron Eldard), the local womanizer.
Hunt’s other friends, the drug dealing philosophizer Cons (Josh Hamilton) and the married Lozo (Ken Marino, who also penned the script), deal with their own issues. Marino is great as a foul-mouthed father of four who constantly fights with his wife (Sarah Paulson) but couldn’t contemplate life without her. “She’s my heart” he tells Hunt, and by the time he utters the line, we’ve already seen it. It’s not that the characters don’t arc from the beginning to the end, but more importantly they open up and show us their humanity.
The movie isn't played broadly for laughs (although there is humor) or for deep melancholy. Rather, real people deal with real issues in a warm way that makes us glad we got to sit in with them for a short period. The acting is a real strength and there isn’t a trace of artificiality to them or their performances. Still, the somewhat unoriginal plot does tend to bathe everything in a “been-there done-that” feel. But if you can look past that and the lack of any real heft in what is happening and just focus on the performances and the laid back attitude, it’s an enjoyable time.
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