Review: The Dig
by Carlota Moseguí
- TORONTO 2018: Northern Irish brothers Andrew Tohill and Ryan Tohill present their first film at Toronto, a detective story about a former prisoner’s redemption
After winning the Best Irish Film Award at Galway Film Festival this year, The Dig [+see also:
film profile], the first feature film by brothers Andrew and Ryan Tohill, made its North American premiere in the Discovery section at the 43rd Toronto Film Festival. The Dig is a story of redemption, whose main character has spent the last fifteen years of his life in jail for murder. However, the alleged culprit doesn’t remember the crime. In fact, he doesn’t remember anything about that fateful morning. Before going to prison, Ronan Callahan (Moe Dunford) was an alcoholic, drinking every day until he passed out. One night, he went out drinking, as usual, with his girlfriend, and was the last person to be seen with her at a bar. The next morning, various witnesses in the village of Balymena become convinced that he’s killed her, despite him not being able to remember a thing, not even where he has supposedly buried her. By the time he finishes serving his sentence fifteen years later, her body has still not been found.
The screenplay, written by Stuart Drennan, begins when our hero is released from prison. The murderer’s reutrn to his home town profoundly affects the victim's family. Nobody has really been able to get over her death, especially the girl’s father (Lorcan Cranitch), who has spent all these years looking for her body in Ronan's back garden. The two men inevitably meet, as we fear, very early on, when the supposed murderer returns home and discovers his former father-in-law digging up the garden on his property. The disappeared girl’s sister (Emily Taaffe) will also play a crucial role in this triangle of guilt, lies and other unanswered puzzles.
The Dig is a crime thriller set in a sinister rural Northern Ireland, starring the wetlands of Balymena, which devour what remains of the disappeared. Staying one step ahead of these vast muddy swamps is an impossible task. And so, the hero will set out on a path to redemption by helping his former father-in-law to find his daughter's remains with a shovel and a pickaxe.
Along with this physical sacrifice to find the victim, the local police detective (Francis Magee) also reopens the case, without catching onto the fact that the investigation will inevitably reopen wounds that have not yet healed. It’s worth noting that solving the riddle is not the intention. This first film by the Northern Irish brothers primarily focuses on the hero’s process of acceptance of his past, as well as his battle against his ghosts and his worst enemy: alcoholism.
The Dig was produced by Out Of Orbit. The film's international sales are being handled by the American company XYZ Films.
(Translated from Spanish)
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