Director: Rodrigo Cortes.
Cast: Ryan Reynolds.
HOW do you make an entire film set in a coffin? Or more to the point, how do you make it exciting, tense, edge-of-your-seat stuff for 90 minutes?
Buried is how. While its central conceit — its six-feet-under micro-location — might seem gimmicky, it’s a gimmick that would get real tired real quick if not for an exceptional script and one hell of a performance.
That performance is courtesy of former Van Wilder, future Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds, who plays American truck driver Paul Conroy.
He’s a contractor in Iraq and one day he wakes up in a box, underground, with little more than a phone and a lighter. How he got there, why he’s there and how he will get out are the pertinent questions that drive this claustrophobic narrative.
That there is a narrative at all is testament to Chris Sparling’s brilliant script, which continually ramps up the tension and hits some strong emotional notes along the way.
Reynolds is brilliant as Conroy — Oscar-worthy even. He runs a very believable gamut of emotions, and is totally natural whether he’s swearing in frustration or calling his mum to say goodbye (one of the film’s real tearjerker moments). Best of all, he is good enough to not just hold the entire film, but keep you enraptured and empathising.
Cortes’ direction does the obvious — puts you in the box with Conroy — but it never gets in the way of the action. His camera even manages a few neat tricks, moving beyond the limitations of his set.
There is an element of frustration to watching Buried — the kind where afterwards you’ll think “why didn’t he do this?” or “why didn’t he do that earlier?”. But those moments can be forgiven due to the fact you’re probably not going to be thinking clearly when you wake up, buried alive. And if that is the only fault to be found in Buried, then it must be a great film. And it is.