Buried (2010)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.6/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

BURIED (2010) - Rodrigo Cortés

Paul Conroy has a lighter, a cell phone, 90 minutes of oxygen, and very few options….

Buried is a Spanish minimalist film shot in seventeen days with Spanish money, around two million American dollars equivalent. One might think: "Hollywood couldn't get enough money to make a movie about a guy in a box?" Apparently not. The film premiered at the Sundance Festival and received an overabundance of hype and buzz. It stars Ryan Reynolds, previously seen in The Proposal, and the voices from a few other actors, no other faces. Reynolds is the only actor we see on screen.

Buried revolves around Iraq-based American truck driver Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) who, after being attacked, finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin, with a few items to help him escape before the oxygen in the coffin runs out. Soon enough, he discovers that he is confined in a hostage situation where he is held for ransom. The gimmick here is that the entire film of Buried takes place in the coffin. If one thinks, "When are they going to open the coffin?", do not look forward to it. The film never leaves the coffin.

Ryan Reynolds is riveting. This movie is, without even thinking, Reynolds' greatest performance to date. Unfortunately for him, he takes the suffering for our art. He presents emotions through unimaginable new depths. Even though Buried bears a tiny premise, it is nonetheless a showcase for Reynolds' talent. Despite his radical portrayal of a panicking man, the dodgy script trails him off at certain times. There are moments where he does things that we would simply not do at times. However, in the overall picture, Reynolds successfully conveys the true intensity and horror of an extreme life-or-death situation. He has probably done the most non-Hollywood role ever, nailing both the compressed physicality as well as the descending psyche of his character with great precision. He is sympathetic and intensely watchable from beginning to end.

Despite its setting being extremely restricted, Buried works not just because Reynolds is excellent, but because Rodrigo Cortés is far more superior. Since the film is an hour and a half inside a coffin, the camera needs to wander in places that the normal human would not imagine going to. It skids alongside Reynolds' body, as if we as audience members are mice or snakes. It displays the "roof" of the coffin as if we ourselves are trapped. In a location that is merely a few feet long and wide, the cinematography manages to capture our attention. It may be claustrophobic in its literal sense, but director Rodrigo Cortés assists us by providing interesting camerawork.

Even though Buried is a suspenseful and incredible surprise for a minimalist film, it becomes a gimmick at a certain point and turns from edge-of-your-seat nail-biting to illogical continuations. If one kidnaps a truck driver, would one really bury him six feet under to get his ransom money? Are there easier ways to execute this? Yes. It gets tired really quickly but thankfully it is saved a bit by a mediocre script and a captivating performance. People have claimed that director Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud. I disagree. Alfred Hitchcock, in his whole career, has only made two minimalist gimmick movies, Lifeboat and Rope. Other than that, films like Rear Window or North By Northwest are just solid thrillers. Here in Buried, it is simple and gripping from the beginning to end. Its sensation of confinement is so powerful that one cannot help but breathe harder and harder.

In conclusion, Buried is a thrilling movie that may have become a gimmick halfway in but is still surging. It is proof that sometimes the greatest movie ideas are the simplest, a suggestion that filmmakers these days avoid. The physical condition of the film is minuscule, but its impact is enormous. If only Edgar Allan Poe could see this movie. He would be uncorking a bottle of Amontillado and laugh at himself in entertainment. It is stirring yet smothering at the same time, one hell of a nightmare. Ryan Reynolds gives his most compelling performance yet, and has done so while lying on his back most of the time. His back alone deserves an Oscar for its absolute endurance in this film. It is a brutally intense piece that can be appreciated if one can look over the holes in its plot. Buried is enthralling, where we can fully respect Reynolds for his theatricals and Cortés for his impressive cinematic achievement, after we first catch our breath.

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