Most indie filmmakers tend to graduate into mainstream filmmaking, stick their toes in the water and decide whether they’d like to stay in this world or not. It’s hard to resist, the pay is better, and so are the actors and some creature comforts come along as well. Some filmmakers navigate their way in better than others, keeping their artistic credibility and integrity intact. One filmmaker who has melded his sensibilities nicely into more mainstream success is Joe Swanberg. After a decade of mumblecore micro-indies, Swanberg crossed over in 2011 with “Drinking Buddies,” and perhaps the most refreshing element of his continued upward trajectory is how the filmmaker has continued to basically make the same kind of movies, but with actors who really make the material sing and a budget that feels more polished, while still keeping a homespun vibe.
Marriage, fidelity, relationships, and various numbing agents are a core Swanberg subject of late. “Drinking Buddies” looked at platonic friendships that began to blur lines with a little booze, “Happy Christmas” examined another drinking problem within the context of family and the challenges of parenthood, and while he’s flirted with domestic struggles in past films, in “Digging For Fire” Swanberg zeroes in solely on the difficulties of marriage with few narrative tangents.
A type of indie “Eyes Wide Shut” — Stanley Kubrick’s examination of marriage, its struggles and temptations — “Digging For Fire” focuses on a married couple (played by Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt) who go their separate ways on a long-weekend getaway. During their separate sojourns and adventures, various friends, happenstance meetings, and bad influences tempt and test their loyalty to one another. All the while there’s a mystery cooking in the background of the film: why are there human bones found in the backyard of their weekend retreat? “What unfolds is a moody, reflective exploration of their own lives with potential romantic entanglements that test each individual’s resolve,” our review from Sundance wrote, adding, “[it’s] easy-going charms make it one of [Swanberg’s] most enjoyable films.”
Featuring an all-star cast, “Digging For Fire” also co-stars Sam Rockwell, Brie Larson, Anna Kendrick, Orlando Bloom, Sam Elliott, Judith Light, Mike Birbiglia, Jane Adams, Ron Livingston, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Messina, and you’ll even spot a quick appearance by Jenny Slate and Lindsay Burge if you’re paying attention. Due in theaters August 21 and iTunes August 25, the first trailer for the film has arrived and it’ll give you more flavor of this moody and mysterious dramedy that Swanberg dedicated to the late relationship-driven auteur Paul Mazursky. Watch the trailer below and let us know what you think. [Poster via EW]