Buried

26 Oct

Title: Buried
Year: 2010
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer: Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ivana Miño, Anne Lockhart, Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Samantha Mathis, Erik Palladino, Heath Centazzo, Joe Guarneri, Warner Loughlin, José Luis García
MPAA Rating: R, language and some violent content
Runtime: 95 min
Major Awards: 1 NBR Award
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Buried is a dam good film and, pending my viewing of the upcoming 127 Hours, is the most claustrophobic film of the year, just a tremendous film experience I will be recommending to everyone. The film starts with Paul Conroy, a truck driver who suddenly wakes up in a coffin, with nothing but a cellphone and a zippo lighter. And it takes it from there, actually getting an amazing amount of seriously riveting drama out of its premise and, most of all, getting out of Ryan Reynolds a performance that’s unbelievably good.

I think everyone has thought about how it would feel like to be buried alive. I personally have, it’s thought that makes everyone shudder and try to think about something else. The scenario already embedded into modern pop culture by Quentin Tarantino, first in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and a year later in the fifth season finale of CSI which he wrote and directed that was just terrific. It has to be one of the most horrible situations one can imagine, and Buried adds to that notion.

Just imagine being Paul Conroy, a regular guy, a truck driver working in Iraq, and waking up in a dark place, feeling around until you find a lighter, and when you turn it on realizing you’re in a coffin. And after using the phone, realizing that you’re being held hostage and that your captors want money from your government for your release. What’s amazing about Buried is that you connect with Paul so much that you kind of get to be one with him, get to think what he thinks, get frustrated with him, it’s seriously an amazing effect to have when watching a movie, and the kudos for that go to Mr. Reynolds.

And another whole lot of kudos have to be given to the director, the Spaniard Rodrigo Cortés, and to the writer, Chris Sparling, because they are the ones that gave Ryan Reynolds the material he works with. They are the ones that crafted this intense ride we’re on so damn well, and it’s amazing that the whole hour and a half we’re inside that coffin with Paul, we don’t get to see the faces of the 911 operators he calls, of his wife, of no one, it’s just us being Paul, only getting to hear their voices, further deepening our connection to him. We, like him, are trying to picture the faces at the other end, and, like him, we are getting more and more desperate as the time goes by, thinking about just how long the oxygen inside the coffin will last.

Buried is, simply put, a very thrilling film, claustrophobic pretty much throughout its entirety, but never boring, we never think about getting out of that coffin to see what’s going on outside, we just want him to go through it alive. I won’t go ahead and spoil the stuff that happens inside that coffin, the events with which Mr. Cortés fills the hour and a half are all very good, and they’re all very real, and we get to go through it with Mr. Reynolds, who, though always charismatic, I had never really thought of as an especially good actor until I saw his performance in this one. His is a performance that works tremendously, he won’t get an Academy Award nomination for it, but you have to give him props for working it like he did, this is a very limited performance because the guy was stuck in a coffin, but he delivers, the performance is exactly what it should be.

I thought the script was wonderful, Mr. Sparling, who so far had only done a short and a small film I haven’t seen, definitely has the goods to be a sought after writer in the industry. His next film will be called ATM, directed by David Brooks in his feature-length debut, and will be about three co-workers who go to an ATM late at night and become trapped by an unknown man, so yeah, it seems like really tight spaces are the specialty of this guy. Alice Eve from She’s Out of My League, Josh Peck from The Wackness and Brian Geraghty from The Hurt Locker are currently filming that one.

As for Mr. Cortés, this is also his first big break, previously having done only shorts and a small film in his native Spain. But the guy already has his next project in line, with a 2012 release date, and it’s one I’m interested in, called Red Lights the flick is to be a psychological thriller starring Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver, so count me very much in.

What I mean by this is that this is a very skilled group of people, pretty much all having their first shot at something this big. And that great teamwork shows, Ryan Reynolds in his best performance to date giving life to a wonderful script under the direction of a guy that certainly knows what he’s doing and has a great future in front of him. Not to mention that the cinematography, by Eduard Grau who worked on last year’s remarkable A Single Man, is also terribly effective, he, much like Mr. Reynolds, did the most out of what he had to work with, the shadows cast by the lighter, the light from the cellphone, it all just works so damn well.

Buried is a helluva film, I personally loved it, it’s a film that gets one fully involved as an audience member, a film that boasts in Ryan Reynolds an actor giving the perfect performance this role required, and in Rodrigo Cortés a filmmaker that certainly knew how to handle this and make the hour and a half pass by really easily. And that’s no small feat considering those ninety-five minutes were spent inside a coffin, but the guy worked it, he had seven different coffins made to get different camera angles, and it all works beautifully thanks to some sharp editing work done by Mr. Cortés himself. Simply put, this is a work well done through and through.

Grade: A-

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