One night, Nikitas (Vangelis Mourikis)’s shack-like house is almost swept away by a mudslide during a storm. -The reason? A nearby mining company, casually referred to as “the monster” by locals, is digging up all the land around them. However, if this wasn’t enough, Nikitas’s son Johnny (Argyris Pandazaras) then roars back into his life to demand half of his land now that his ex-wife has died. Divorced from both from his son and the modern world around him, what will Nikitas do?
…finds a confident footing between drama and occasional black comedy.
By mixing an environmentalist drama with a neo-western set on the perennially wet mountainsides of northern Greece, ‘Digger’ is a breath of fresh air. Palpably grimy and sodden, Georgis Grigorakis’s debut feature hits all the right notes between the new and the familiar.
Blessed with a craggy face that that hooks the camera into his every expression, Vangelis Mourikis turns Niklas into an arrestingly feral figure. Suitably strong beside him, is the performance of Argyris Pandazaras as his son, Johnny. A disaffected, competitive trails bike rider, he’s his father’s son gone down a similarly stubborn yet solo path. With its palette that echoes a grittier, more monochromatic take on John Sayles’s ‘Matewan‘, ‘Digger’ shares a similar yet timely subplot of the little community hopelessly outmatched by considerations of big business. With its army of conscripted workers taking up unwelcome space in the local drinking den, yet offering to by the villagers off their land, the battle lines between the past and an ever-encroaching present as satisfyingly drawn.
As a film about reconnection and reconciliation, ‘Digger’ finds a confident footing between drama and occasional black comedy. Rewarding you with an ending that is beautifully concealed, it could have ended more impactfully ten minutes earlier. Yet, in a bid to tie up all the dramatic associations and resolve all of its character arcs, the last handful of scenes are a small price to pay for what otherwise is perfectly measured-movie.
See it. It’s worth unearthing.