Joe Swanberg’s Digging For Fire opens with a married couple (played by Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt) and their three-year-old walking into a big fancy house in the hills that will become the setting for the whole movie. “Is dis owa new house,” the child asks. (I’ll be as polite as I can about how much screen time this kid gets on account of he’s Swanberg’s real-life son, but there’s something to be said for not casting your relatives if you’re not prepared to “kill your darlings,” as it were.)
A few minutes of nothing follows (except to set up that they’re house-sitting for the wife’s wealthy yoga client) until Johnson’s character finds a human-looking bone and a rusted gun buried in the hill behind the house. Hooray, you think. This movie’s actually going somewhere!
There’s probably a mumblecore Chekhov’s Gun joke to be made here, where if someone finds a gun in the first act, you’ll want to shoot yourself with it by the third. But I’m actually impressed with Swanberg’s ability to sprinkle just enough breadcrumbs of possible foreshadowing through this forest of dull white ennui to keep me from walking back to my car. Nothing happens, but he’s great at spacing out hints that it might. (I do mean this as a compliment).