Carey Mulligan’s vary is a factor of surprise. If you’ve already seen her as an avenging American in “Promising Young Woman,” watching her in “The Dig” might induce one thing like whiplash. Here she portrays, with unimpeachable credibility, Edith, an upper-class English widow and mom within the late 1930s who’s fulfilling a dream too lengthy deferred.
The dream is to dig up her yard. It’s a giant one, thoughts you, on her property in Suffolk, dotted by what seem like historic burial mounds. To this finish, Edith, whose youthful curiosity in archaeology was squelched on account of her intercourse, hires Basil Brown, a decided freelance archaeologist performed with stoic mien and working-class-tinged accent, by Ralph Fiennes.
Once the work begins, it turns into clear that one thing huge is underground — this film by Simon Stone, and the novel upon which it’s primarily based, is a fictionalized account of the invention of the treasure-filled Sutton Hoo, one of many greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.
Brown’s crew will increase, taking in a dashing cousin of Edith’s (Johnny Flynn, bouncing again from the grievous “Stardust”) and a discontented married couple (Ben Chaplin and Lily James). Big Archaeology tries to horn its means in. Much drama ensues.
Weighty themes are thought of right here: the query of who “owns” historical past; the corrosive results of sophistication inequality; the possibly tragic intertwining of sexual repression and loneliness. To its credit score, this constantly fascinating and at occasions engrossing image declines to strike any of its notes with a hammer. Trading on the good British artwork of understatement, it’s scrupulous, sober, and tasteful all through.
Rated PG-13 for themes and language. Running time: 1 hour 52 minutes. Watch on Netflix.