‘The Dig’ reviews round-up: ‘Beautiful, heartfelt tale’ has ‘intelligence and sensitivity’

New period drama movie The Dig premieres on Netflix tomorrow and the first reviews are in!

Adapted from the 2007 novel by John Preston, the film is set in England in 1939, as the Second World War approaches.

The Dig tells the story of the most famous archaeological dig in modern British history – the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo, known as “Britain’s Tutankhamun.”

Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient), and Lily James (Downton Abbey) lead the cast, alongside Johnny Flynn (Vanity Fair), Ben Chaplin (World Without End), Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult), and Ken Stott (Rebus).

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The official synopsis reads: “As WWII looms, a wealthy widow (Carey Mulligan) hires an amateur archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the burial mounds on her estate.

“When they make a historic discovery, the echoes of Britain’s past resonate in the face of its uncertain future‎.”

We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch the movie:


“Ralph Fiennes’s Sutton Hoo drama is a beautiful, heartfelt period tale … Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and a roguish Johnny Flynn bring this Thirties-set tale of intellectual and romantic passion to life.” ★★★★ – The Telegraph


“Netflix’s The Dig excavates unexpected, worthy drama thanks to Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes.” – The Globe and Mail


The Dig has to work hard to conjure up genuine dramas out of the minutiae of archaeology (this is no search for the Ark Of The Covenant), never really raising the pulse rate, but it gets by on strong performances, some gorgeous filmmaking and the always winning idea of good people coming together to do good things.” ★★★ – Empire


“At its heart this nicely produced drama with Mike Eley’s exquisite cinematography of the English coastline is a terrific showcase for the talents of Mulligan … Fiennes gets one of his best screen roles in some time … The pairing could not be more perfect. The movie is one with nice rewards as it explores not just the treasures buried in plain sight, but also the humanity deep inside us if we choose to find it.” – Deadline


The Dig is actually not a very earthy film, though there is intelligence and sensitivity and a good deal of English restraint and English charm, thoroughly embodied by the fine leading performers Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes … Mulligan and Fiennes look like two characters who have been written out of their own soap opera. This doesn’t stop The Dig being engaging, and with a beautiful sense of landscape.” ★★★ – The Guardian


“…it is a thoroughly enjoyable film made with subtlety and sensitivity: a real tonic for these bleak winter days and nights. It lacks the emotional and intellectual heft and bite to make it an unmissable, classic movie, but I would happily watch it again, and again.” ★★★★ – BBC


“Like the soon to be released Ammonite, The Dig is about a scientist from the wrong side of the track, who faces prejudice at every turn. Stone’s film never gets its hands dirty in the way that Francis Lee’s does. But it’s a whole lot rougher, and wryer, than Downton Abbey … Mulligan is so wondrously good at conveying loneliness/longing/intellectual frustration/maternal terror.” ★★★ – Evening Standard


“The script can’t always stay on that path with them as it swings toward sentiment or gets wrapped up in other storylines; some moments register as too subtle altogether, and others not at all. But in the larger sense of whatever a movie like this promises to be — that you will laugh (in a properly low-key English way) and cry (but not too outrageously), and feel the sudden, urgent need to drink milky tea and own a pair of dungarees — The Dig more than fulfills its destiny.” – Entertainment Weekly


The Dig is available to watch on Netflix around the world from Friday 29th January.

John Preston’s novel The Dig is available on Amazon.