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on May 11, 2007

How refreshing it is to encounter an art house, "independent" film that doesn't rely on "quirkiness," "eclecticism" or "eccentricity" to impress the viewer with its "cleverness." Instead, "Diggers" is a realistic slice-of-life drama that plays it straight with its audience, viewing both its characters and their situations without cynicism or irony.

Set in 1976, "Diggers" focuses on four young men leading lives of quiet desperation, working as independent clam diggers on Long Island Sound. All four have pretty much accepted the fate life has handed them, although one, a talented photographer named Hunt (Paul Rudd), dreams vaguely of one day starting a new life away from his family home and business, if only he can muster enough personal courage and initiative to actually make the move. His married buddy, Lozo (Ken Marino, who also wrote the screenplay), is more firmly tied down to the area by the responsibilities he has as husband and father to an ever-expanding brood of undisciplined children. The remainder of the quartet consists of Jack (Ron Eldard), a devil-may-care womanizer, who becomes romantically involved with Hunt's thirty-six year old divorced sister, Gina (Maura Tierney); and Cons (Josh Hamilton), a perpetually stoned pseudo-hippie philosopher who, of all the characters, seems most in tune with the drug culture loopiness of the period in which the movie is set. In addition to Gina, the women in their lives include Lozo's levelheaded but eternally frustrated wife, Julie (Sarah Paulson), and Zoe (Lauren Ambrose from "Six Feet Under"), a pretty young woman from Manhattan who has a brief summertime flirtation with Hunt.

Written by Marino and directed by Katherine Dieckmann, "Diggers" is so low-keyed in its attitude and tone that it may feel to some viewers as if nothing much really happens in the film. Yet, in many ways, this is the major selling-point of the movie - that it doesn't feel obligated to make big dramatic gestures to unravel its characters or maintain our interest. Marino and Dieckmann have a nice feel for the rhythms of life, as everyday, casual moments are given equal weight with major, life-altering events - the death of a parent, the announcement of a pregnancy, the final farewell to a dearly departed.

If there is a flaw in the film, it is that the movie is simply too short (a mere 89 minutes) to allow for the kind of plot expansion and probing character development we rightfully expect from a work of this sort. In fact, due primarily to the time constraints, two of the buddies, Jack and Cons, are reduced to little more than minor characters in the overall fabric of the story. An additional half hour or so in the running time would have gone a long way towards correcting that problem. As compensation, the director exploits to the full the bucolic richness of the unfamiliar setting, and captures the laid-back quality of an era in which the youthful idealism of an earlier time has all but evaporated in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate. The movie also touches on the threat of creeping globalization as these family-run clam-digging operations are beginning to be squeezed out of business by an impersonal conglomeration that has recently moved into the area. Through Lozo's character, in particular, the movie effectively dramatizes the stress and strain working-class couples and families go through when they are living literally paycheck to paycheck, along with the compromises they are forced to make just to keep their heads above water.

Rudd, who has long been underrated as an actor, provides a beautifully understated performance as the soul-searching Hunt, and he is superbly abetted by the other members of the cast.

More anecdote than full-fledged narrative, "Diggers" has the benefit of not taking itself or its characters too seriously. It presents its story in a naturalistic, matter-of-fact manner, without fanfare and fuss and devoid of high-minded sermons or heavy-breathing lectures. "Diggers" is the very definition of self-effacing filmmaking.
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'Diggers' released in '06 is a tale of rural life in a oceanside community and four friends who make a meger living digging for clams. When their tenious livelihood is threatened by a large fishing company which moves into town and buys the fishing rights to a prime digging location their daily catch grows smaller and life more difficult then it already was. What begins as an outward struggle between the rights of the individual versus big business slowly shifts into an exploration of the inner, more personal thoughts, fears and hopes of the "diggers" and what lies ahead as the old way of life dies before their eyes.

'Diggers' is a good but not great film. Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney are a delight as always and the supporting cast delivers strong, believable and likeable performances, my favorite being Josh Hamilton in the role of Cons, the erudiate and philosophical druggie and digger. I also enjoyed the crisp, witty dialogue and the backwoods, outsider soundtrack. Definitely worth a watch.
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on June 11, 2007
Having lived the life of the Great South Bay Clam Digger this movie was a step back in time for me. Much of the movie is based in fact although the original company always had the rights to the bay bottom (by the way the company is featured in the documentary)and did not have the impact portrayed in the movie, but it does portray the dilemma we all faced as the industry began to decline due to enviromental issues in the bay.

What I found more interesting is the personal stories portayed by the characters and how they evolved through the changes they faced. It is definitley a movie I will watch more than once.
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on April 28, 2007
Ah....the early 1970's.We were no longer "flower children",JAWS dominated the box office (boy,do I remember standing in line for that!) and we had yet to reach "the big chill" of the 1980's "need-to-choose-a-life" era.Thus we come to DIGGERS,an intimate semi-serious,semi-comical look at Long Island clam diggers, who as a small time business, are threatened into extinction by the large corporate commercial fishermen encroaching the Long Island South Bay Shore.

Paul Rudd who seems to always pop his head up as comic relief in FRIENDS, CLUELESS and more recently THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, plays the digger,Hunt,opposite Ken Marino's Frankie ( Marino actually wrote this little quirky gem) in this period piece which observes these characters in a two week period in 1976.Hunt loses his father to a heart attack and what transpires with the aid of other characters (especially the always surprising Maura Tierney) is a coming of age-type story for Hunt as he faces his own choices before him.

The film is definitely an Indie and plays as such.This is not a movie of alot of action,but much more of a character study and observing people and their behaviours.Generally I enjoy a good intimate character study film,but these characters in DIGGERS get a little bogged down in the dialogue and the film founders in that respect. You may not particularly care/sympathize/identify with any of them.I personally did not,but still a one time viewing is worthwhile.3 1/2***'s.DVD extra documentary BAYMEN is OUTSTANDING in understanding the life and times of the farm-fishermen.It is as good if not better than the film itself.
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VINE VOICEon May 18, 2007
After hearing a review of this movie on Ebert & Roeper, I just felt like it was one I had to see. I would have given it 5 stars but I was put off at first and nearly switched the movie off. In the beginning the characters are not very appealing. I found myself wondering, "Why should I care about these people?" In fact, the movie does not ever grab you by the throat, but it does involve you, gently, confidently. It feels very authentic. Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney are exceptional (both give the best performances of their careers), but the entire cast is strong. This is exactly what I love about indie filmmaking. This will be a movie I will watch every once in a while, just to lose myself in a very defined time and place.
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on November 19, 2007
This is another one of those movies that straddles the line between comedy and poignance. This is an excellent movie with an awesome cast. You really get an idea for the difficulties and lifestyle of these clam diggers. You know these guys are toast and how they're clinging to a life that is long gone.
The character who wrote the screenplay and acts as the least-favorable character was just an awesome actor. Also, Paul Rudd [of 40-Year old virgin fame, among others] is really impressing me for the quality of his acting. He's just a likeable, funny actor that you can't take your eyes off.
Totally recommended movie. Awesome. As good as "Herman USA"
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This is a heartwarming glimpse into a different kind of American way of life. A band of ordinary people in a small town on Long Island tries to keep their chins up and hope alive as their way of making a living digging for clams is threatened by a larger company, driving out many of the small, family operations. The friendships and their relationships are challenged by the hardship. However, they are a close group from a long line of hard working men and women and won't go belly up, even if it means making different choices and breaking tradition.

Chrissy K. McVay - Author
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on January 24, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Having grown up on the south shore of Long Island, and having been a clammer myself, I can say that the protrayals were right on. I knew guys like these. Just a couple of things were inaccurate, but did not lessen the enjoyment of the story. First.... the lack of accents. Long Islanders have a distinctive style of speech. Second, the soundtrack did not really fit the era portrayed. The last thing is a technical detail that, as a former clammer, caught my eye. You don't rake for clams from an anchored boat. Good movie overall that I will recommend to others.
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on June 20, 2013
Being a clammers daughter from Long Island I was pretty excited to watch this. There wasn't as much on the water storyline as I would've liked, but the acting and casting was phenomenal. Overall I enjoyed it.
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on January 25, 2016
I rented this movie because I am a Paul Rudd fan, and hadn't seen this one. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were several other actors I admire (Sarah Paulson, Maura Tierney, Ken Marino). The story is a bit stale at times, but all in all, I really enjoyed the film.
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