Film can take you places you don’t expect a lot of the time. It’s always a pleasant surprise when that happens, no matter the circumstances. This holds even more true when it comes from an independent filmmaker who is making a project solely out of their passion for film rather than a studio film that decides to make a film worth caring about. Writer/director Stephen Belyeu, in his feature debut, DIG, has crafted a film that explores all areas of loss, pain, mourning, and coping with the loss of a loved one. It even adds a few dashes of mystery and psychological drama tropes to what ends up being an incredibly thought provoking film.
After the unexpected death of his father, Mike returns to his small hometown in south Texas. Mike decides to remain in the small town for a while to let time heal some of the pain of his loss and he only has his grandparents Manuel and Helen to help him cope . But what nobody knows is that Mike harbors a painful secret; a secret left to him by his father three years prior to his passing. He soon unknowingly embarks on a journey for answers and begins to unravel the truth.
What plagues most low-budget independent films isn’t much of an issue in Dig. The lead performance by Jordan Jones is pretty fantastic as an man in his early 20’s facing a lot of strife at such a young age. The performance that stands out the most is that of Theo Gutierrez, who plays Manuel, Mike’s grandfather. He comes off as a completely natural source of comfort for Mike, and that comfort easily transcends to the viewer.
The pacing at times moves a little slow, but it’s interlaced with some really great original music that sets the tone wonderfully. Once you get past those small issues, you’ll find that although Dig is never mind-blowing, it thankfully is boosted by strong performances. Well directed performances.
This is writer/director Stephen Belyeu’s first feature film, yet he’s got a few short films under his belt. With Dig, he’s proven that he is capable of getting really great performances out of his actors, and the script is pretty great as well. Hopefully, he’s got a bright future ahead of him.
Dig is currently available for anyone to screen over at Tugg.com Tugg is a service that lets anyone set up their own screening at a local theater of their choice. You can find this and hundreds of other films that are available to screen, most of which are festival favorites that don’t get wide theater releases.
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