Industrious microbudget moviemaker Joe Swanberg assembles another impressive troupe of actors for another slice-o'-life shamble, his characters angsting about fidelity, commitment, sex, parenting, friendship, aging, and - in the case of Digging for Fire - about human bones discovered in some shrubs.
Jake Johnson (sharing writing credit with his director) and Rosemarie DeWitt are Tim and Lee, a couple with a 3-year-old (Jude Swanberg - high-chair nepotism) and a cool house-sitting gig. He's a teacher, she's a yoga instructor, and they've left their apartment in the lowlands of L.A. for some R&R at a home in the hills - a modern spread with a swimming pool, tennis court, and killer views.
Perhaps those views, though, aren't the only thing that's killer: Tim stumbles on a bone, then unearths a rusty pistol. He calls the police, but they're not interested. His wife tells him to leave it alone - don't go tearing up the garden in search of something you probably don't want to know about anyway.
Of course, when Lee leaves to visit her mom and stepdad (Judith Light and Sam Elliott), Tim takes out a shovel and begins excavating. His buddies (including Mike Birbiglia, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Berg) drop by, a pair of keen-to-party women (Anna Kendrick and Brie Larson) arrive, and soon the place is looking like an amateur - and anarchic - archaeological dig.
One of the key props in Digging for Fire is a book, Passionate Marriage ("Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships"), which Lee pores over with a worried frown. As she goes off for a night on the town, bar-chatting with a chivalrous Brit (Orlando Bloom), and as Tim gets friendly with Larson's Max, the possibility of a different kind of passion looms.
Digging for Fire, like last year's Happy Christmas (also with Kendrick) and 2013's Drinking Buddies (with Johnson and Kendrick), is not a film for fans of taut, crafted dialogue and definitive endings. Conversations drift and weave, as do the people having them. Narcissistic melancholy dukes it out with beer-and-pot-stoked merriment. There is longing. There is foolhardiness.
There are small moments of mystery, magic.
You could call them epiphanies. But you'd be getting ahead of yourself - and ahead of Swanberg - if you