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97. Digger; movie review

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Title : 97. Digger; movie review
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Cert TBA
101 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

More than 20 years ago we moved into our current house and the field at its rear proved an idyllic place for our young children to play.
We deliberately bought a home in a cul-de-sac and wanted nearby green space, so I contacted the local authority to make certain there were no plans for development.
I was assured that the field had been dedicated as a leisure space for the people of the area. 
Now that field is no more because it is used as a tram track.
I was reminded of our fight to preserve it while watching Digger, a film by Georgis Grigorakis.
At its heart is Nikitas (Vangelis Mourikis), a wizened farmer who lives and works alone in the heart of a mountain forest in northern Greece.
He has been battling for years with developers who are seeking to lay a road through his land, destroying the nature which he holds so dear.
His fight seems straightforward - even though it is just him and a handful of impoverished neighbours against the weight of a powerful company.
However, it is complicated with the unexpected arrival of his estranged son (Argyris Pandazaras) after a 20-year separation.
The latter broods with resentment for a father who he perceives abandoned him and carelessly lost touch.
Therefore, he shows little sentiment when demanding his inheritance which amounts to a chunk of Nikitas's farm.
Thus, two conflicts play out between Nikitas and the developers and between father and son.
In parallel, the locals in a previously tight-knit community are at odds over whether they should pay up and leave.
Then there is the son's fling with the local barmaid (Sofia Kokkali) who reveals important information about the past.
Digger includes some very credible performances from a cast who immerse themselves in the environmental and ideological battle.
I completely bought into Nikitas as a lonely widower who has nothing but pride for the land he has farmed for decades because Mourikis has captured the part with such guile.
I could also see what a pain in the ass he would be to the workmen who want to open up the land for jobs and potential prosperity.
Meanwhile, the family story lays bare a few believable contradictions in Nikitas's thought processes.
The only problem is that the movie is too slow - taking far too long to slip into gear.

Reasons to watch: Realistic environmental fight
Reasons to avoid: Too slow for many

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 6/10

Did you know? Thousands protested in Athens in May 2020 against the new anti-environmental bill of the ruling right-wing New Democracy party. The bill, entitled “Modernised Environmental Legislation” aimed to ease the issuing of permissions to private investors, allowing them to develop projects in protected areas, but also the places where local communities resist the destruction of their environment by capital. Public scrutiny of proposed developments is reduced by this new “fast-track” procedures.

The final word. Georgis Grigorakis: "It is my relationship with my father, in a sense. A father figure is always like a god when you’re a child. Then you learn that he is human and has made mistakes in his life. You have to forgive him. This film is my process of accepting my father as a human being." The Upcoming

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