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Diggers

Low-key, likeable ensembler "Diggers" is a quintessential Amerindie for better and worse -- basically "Diner" in wading boots, it feels very familiar in conceit and unadventurous in execution, but offers the undeniable pleasures of a well-observed, well-played modest seriocomedy.

With:
Hunt - Paul Rudd Zoey - Lauren Ambrose Jack - Ron Eldard Cons - Josh Hamilton Julie - Sarah Paulson Lozo - Ken Marino Gina - Maura Tierney

Low-key, likeable ensembler “Diggers” is a quintessential Amerindie for better and worse — basically “Diner” in wading boots, it feels very familiar in conceit and unadventurous in execution, but offers the undeniable pleasures of a well-observed, well-played modest seriocomedy. Tale of several 30-ish townies watching their ancestors’ clam-digging livelihood fade away in the mid-1970s Hamptons won’t be tearing up the box office anywhere. Still, recognizable cast faces and pleasant overall impact make this attractive fare for cable, DVD release and limited theatrical exposure.

Although not on the best of terms with his crusty pa, Hunt (Paul Rudd) is guilt-stricken when he arrives typically late for a day’s work on the bay and discovers the old man has died alone of heart failure. Hunt and his buddies already have worries enough, with a corporate fishery aggressively buying up water rights and limiting the independent clammers’ access to prime areas.

This hits particularly hard for Lozo (scenarist Ken Marino), who’s perpetually at odds with wife Julie (Sarah Paulson) over strapped finances — they’ve got a big brood o’ kids to support, with another on the way. Cons (Josh Hamilton) supplements his income with dealing drugs — though he consumes the lion’s share of them — while local Casanova Jack (Ron Eldard) irks Hunt by turning his attention to Hunt’s divorced sis Gina (Maura Tierney). Protag himself finds summer romance with visiting Manhattan hipster Zoey (Lauren Ambrose).

Screenplay’s shaggy loser humor and writ-small situations, channeled through very affable perfs, make for a satisfying watch — though parking-lot fistfight between townies and corporate creeps feels both conventional and underwhelming as climactic device.

Environ of the Hamptons — pre-influx of the garishly wealthy — might have been more flavorfully captured in aesthetic terms, but pic still rings truer in capturing a time and place than helmer Katherine Diekmann’s prior “A Good Baby,” which eventually fell victim to an overly melodramatic script. Good use is made of vintage rock tracks; tech package is decent.

Diggers

Production: A Magnolia Pictures release of an HDNet Films production in association with Dirty Rice Pictures. Produced by Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente, Anne Chaisson, Ken Marino. Executive producers, Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner, David Wain. Co-producer, Jon Stern. Directed by Katherine Dieckmann. Screenplay, Ken Marino.

Crew: Camera (color, HDcam), Michael McDonough; editors, Malcolm Jamieson, Sabine Hoffman; music, David Mansfield; production designer, Roshelle Berliner; art director, Katya Debear; set decorator, Chryss Hionis; costume designer, Catherine George; sound (Dolby Digital), Jeff Pullman; casting, Cindy Tolan. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 11, 2006. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: Hunt - Paul Rudd Zoey - Lauren Ambrose Jack - Ron Eldard Cons - Josh Hamilton Julie - Sarah Paulson Lozo - Ken Marino Gina - Maura Tierney

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