On the surface, Digging For Fire doesn’t diverge significantly from the previous Joe Swanberg flicks I’ve seen. It’s populated by funny, attractive actors (the likes of Brie Larson, Orlando Bloom, Chris Messina, Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell) casually the shooting the shit (often in various states of undress). Pretty much everyone is on the boundary between adolescence and adulthood (whatever their age) and teetering on the lower rungs of the middle class.
Digging For Fire (which doubles as a sobering reminder that the Pixies are now considered “classic rock”) centres on a married couple (Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt) minding a mansion, diverges in a couple important ways from the typical Swanberg. The loose cinematography that characterises his mumblecore movies has been sharpened into a slicker aesthetic – lots of idly drifting, ghostly tracking shots from a distance.
The big difference is the motivating mystery; Johnson uncovers a bone and a gun buried in the mansion’s backyard, which sends him on a feverish search to uncover the secrets buried therein. The search unmistakably (and oft-clumsily) symbolises the central relationship, but none of this plays to Swanberg’s strengths as a director; ‘laconic’ just isn’t the right vibe for a (maybe) murder mystery.