Joe Swanberg's Digging For Fire tells the story of Tim and Lee, a young married couple who is in the midst of raising a young child. Given the chance to stay at a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills thanks to Lee's personal connection with the owner, their quiet summer becomes far more complicated when Tim discovers a bone and rusty gun in their backyard. Obsessed with discovering the secret behind this mystery, Tim wants to dig further, but Lee prefers he focus on finishing their taxes, something which Lee was supposed to finish days ago. When Lee goes to visit her parents for the weekend, the time apart sends both Tim and Lee on personal journeys of self-discovery. Using Joe Swanberg's signature style of heavy improvisation which more so than no leads to very fluid and honest dialogue, Digging for Fire is a touching portrait about marriage and parenthood. This is a film about two individuals who feel they have been stripped of their individuality due to marriage and parenthood, forced to be contempt in their respective new-found roles as parents to a young child, something which in itself provides little time for self-reflection. Digging For Fire wisely never makes the relationship of Tim and Lee ever feel "on the rocks" or dysfunctional, rather it subtely reveals the tensions that exist when individuals feel strained by their responsibilities both as husband/wife and parent. Digging For Fire is about the sacrifices one must make in any successful marriage but more importantly the film touches on the importance of not living vicariously through one's child. This is a film which paints a portrait of two individuals who have dedicated so much of their love to their young child that they have little left for one another, though their relationship is never portrayed as overly toxic. I particularly liked the how Swanberg uses the mystery behind the bone and gun which Tim becomes obsessed with is nothing more than an allegory for his desire for adventure and need to break free of the grind of his everyday existence. Tim's tunnel vision to discover the mystery is nothing more than a symbol of his inability to make sacrifices for the sake of his family, a man who must be comfortable in giving up some of his more youthful desires for the sake of the two people he loves. As the film progresses, each of these characters find themselves face-to-face with the opportunity to break free of their commitments in marriage, and Swanberg's Digging For Fire uses this to build a surprising amount of tension as it barrels towards its conclusion. Digging For Fire is a simple effective portrait of the internal struggles which can exist when entering into marriage and parenthood, offering up beautifully realized truths which feel completely honest.
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