A death in the family forces Hunt (Paul Rudd), a Long Island clam digger, to face up to his becalmed existence in Katherine Dieckmann’s terrific movie
about a dying way of life. The Ford-Carter debates simmer quietly in the
background, but Dieckmann doesn’t snow us with ’70s symbolism. This very
particular movie has a lyrical feel for place, period, and the rhythms of a
small-town community trying—and tragicomically failing—to run in place while
the world around it opens its arms to creeping corporatism. Rudd is sweet
and funny; Ron Eldard and Josh Hamilton are great as the town’s aimless stud
muffin and philosophizing pothead respectively. But the movie belongs to Ken
Marino, who is riotously funny as the family man whose anger-management
problem at last finds a fitting target in the big businessmen who come to
destroy his living. Marino also wrote the outstanding script, which traps
the foul-mouthed vitality of working-class speech in a bottle and makes it
sing. Diggers is not a film you watch—it’s a movie you live in, and when
time’s up you feel the same sense of loss as do these guys, who realize they
have no choice but to move on.