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  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
DIRELY DEPARTED Sibs Tierney, left, and Rudd put on their funeral faces.
DIRELY DEPARTED Sibs Tierney, left, and Rudd put on their funeral faces.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Some very funny people play it impressively straight in Diggers, a keenly observed, often heartbreaking drama set on Long Island’s South Shore during a waning Bicentennial summer. The dimming economic prospects of clam diggers don’t exactly scream out for the attentions of comedians. But here they are—notably Ken Marino of MTV’s The State, who tapped his West Islip memories for the original script, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin’s Paul Rudd, who fully steps into a different category dramatically.

The two play a pair of denim-clad denizens of the movie’s Diner-like ensemble of quasiadults: Lozo (Marino), married, with a squalling pack of mouths to feed; Hunt (Rudd), more of a free spirit who takes arty instant photos and buries guilt over his dad’s recent death on the boat by himself. Both characters strain toward a point of barely recognized crisis as a corporation gobbles up Lozo’s water rights, and Hunt’s divorced sister, Gina (the excellent Tierney), seeks and finds sexual comfort among the gang.

Diggers rides so successfully on its free-floating frustrations and impeccable period detail—smoky Hamptons pool halls and Big Star on the radio—that it’s almost a shame when things square up for a manufactured climax in a parking lot. No matter: The larky spirit of camaraderie lingers long after the haze of the film’s many passed joints dissipates. Much of the casual direction (by R.E.M.-video maker Katherine Dieckmann, far more distinctive here than in her debut, A Good Baby) feels improvised; perhaps these comedians are on to something. (Opens Fri; Landmark Sunshine.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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