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Digger review – family tensions are unearthed in slow-burn Greek drama

Its plot that includes a large mining company often known as “the monster” tearing up the panorama and inflicting bitter division among the many hard-drinking native populace, this handsomely shot drama might be happening in rust-belt America. However that is backwoods Greece, the place forest rancher Nikitas (Vangelis Mourikis), first seen warding off a landslide brought on by the miners’ actions, is preventing a operating battle to maintain them from despoiling the haven he loves. A motorcycle throttle at midnight broadcasts the arrival of his estranged son Johnny (Argyris Pandazaras), whose want to assert his inheritance provides to the stress on Nikitas to ship out.

With this father-son battle, and a liking for modern imagery like Johnny’s motocross observe to brighten up the classicism, director Georgis Grigorakis in his function debut makes a declare on the identical sort of romantic-realist territory as Jacques Audiard.

Father and son are pressured to cohabit in Nikitas’s forest cabin; their feuding begins small – he tries to make Johnny put on slippers inside – however step by step turns into infected by previous grievances. Mourikis, trying like a skulking Leonard Cohen, coolly underplays the resentment and regrets till they explode on the company lackeys, like after they lower down his walnut tree.

It’s a disgrace that, because it ramps up, this generational rigidity isn’t dramatised with the sharpness it may need been. Johnny is extra thinly drawn, leaving Digger over-reliant on Nikitas’s egocentric idealism – and a few sometimes on-the-nose scenes revolving round it. Fortunately, Grigorakis’ breakdown of the city’s factions is extra refined. And he and cinematographer Giorgos Karvelas not solely have a watch for hanging visuals, however they know the right way to use them in amplifying counterpoint: the forest dells are filmed with the protecting intimacy Nikitas feels for them, as in opposition to the shock and awe of the mining excavator’s behemoth enamel. A bracing backdrop for a world-weary however participating movie.

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