Swanberg continues to improve with his last three features. While his last two have not been incredibly memorable, this latest really is. Before Drinking Buddies, Swanberg was churning multiple films out a year. Most of which were rough around the edges and that you forgot you even watched them. With his last three however, everything seems to have drastically improved. Digging for Fire has far and away the most impressive cast of the year, boasting the likes of Jake Johnson, Sam Rockwell, Chris Messina, Brie Larson, and so many more. While none of the performances here will be considered a highlight in anyone’s career, the actors give such an incredibly genuine performance that it does not really feel like you are watching a movie. Swanberg has an incredible talent for making his films feel as natural as possible.
The story is not anything particularly groundbreaking. There are two different arcs throughout the film. One of which follows Jake Johnson, who plays Tim. While housesitting for a client with his wife Lee, he discovers a bone and a gun in the backyard. His wife, who is played by Rosemarie DeWitt, tells him to let it go and he does until she goes out for the weekend, which is the second arc of the film. Once she leaves, Tim invites over some of his friends to help him dig around the backyard to see if there is anything more. DeWitt’s side of the story is definitely not as interesting as Johnson’s. This is mainly do to the face that who she encounters is not as lively as those in Johnson’s side. It also feels a lot more like a movie than the other arc. Johnson’s side of the story is what you would expect from a Swanberg film. It is just a lot of people from different stages of life talking up a storm, while DeWitt’s side of the story just feels like one coincidence after another.
Unlike Swanberg’s other films this has a bit more behind it rather than just telling a story with some moderately interesting character development. He focuses upon the temptations that come with being married and how easy it is to succumb to them. Swanberg really sets the mood for this with a surprisingly fantastic score. It creates this underlying sense that something is going to go wrong somewhere down the line. The naturalistic performances brought to the film by the large ensemble help make this one of the most free-flowing films of the year. The chemistry between the actors is out of this world. The conversations between everyone are great outlet to exhibit the different stages of life everyone is at and the different viewpoints that they all carry. Digging for Fire is easily Swanberg’s best film to date.