From 6 feet under comes one of my favourite films of all time: Buried. One of the greatest master-classes in acting, writing and Hitchcockian tension I have ever seen.
Buried (2010) is a thriller/drama directed by Rodrigo Cortés. It stars Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy, a truck driver in Iraq who wakes up buried alive in a wooden coffin with nothing but a cigarette lighter and a phone.
And that’s literally the movie. In a bold move, Cortés avoids any scenes outside the confines of Conroy’s wooden box, keeping the action exclusively trapped to an area the size of a small fridge. Everything happens in the coffin. But thanks to an incredibly constructed script, this premise is stretched to a full 95 minutes of runtime without ever feeling thin or dull. While there are definitely moments of calm, the plot is always rollicking forward as obstacle after obstacle materialises for Conroy to circumvent. And it is thrilling. My first viewing of Buried was quite possibly the tensest 95 minutes of my existence even though I knew how it ended. It was spoiled for me prior online. And if that doesn’t sell the sheer Hitchcockian power on display here, nothing will.
At the centre of this triumph of a film is Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy. While often typecast as the funny man in bad rom coms (or now just a funny man thanks to Deadpool), this guy has incredible untapped dramatic acting potential on display all throughout Buried. Paul Conroy is relatable, authentic, intelligent and f@#$ing terrified. And Reynolds is just perfect. Not only is he so easy to root for, but the sheer rawness of his performance and emotion sells that this is really a man stuck in a box in the ground of a foreign country. You feel the desperation of his situation. And its all thanks to Reynolds.
The other man that should be commended is the director himself, Rodrigo Cortés. Filming inside the space under your bed is not easy, and the shots he manages to accomplish are extraordinary. No shot is ever repeated, and no shot is wasted. While some do break the laws of physics a tad, Cortés never loses sight of the film’s claustrophobic nature, thus making its confined feel even more effective. Himself and cinematographer Eduard Grau should be commended for what they have accomplished.
Aside from a few logic leaps, Buried is a virtually perfect movie of tension. An electrifying performance by Reynolds combined with a genius script and impressive camera-work make Buried a must-see for any lover of film or thrillers. Just be sure to have a pace-maker handy.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Must-see