All the hype, all the praise and the comparisons to the films of Alfred Hitchcock are all well deserved. I saw Buried with a good friend of mine recently, and neither of us had any idea that it was going to be as good as we found it to be. It is damn good, it is very serious about its subject matter and it does not cop out.
Paul Conroy, an American contractor, awakes to find himself buried alive in a coffin, a few feet underground somewhere in Iraq in 2006. He has little knowledge of how and why he was put in there in the first place. Armed with only a few provisions, which include a mobile phone, a canister containing some whiskey (or some other alcoholic beverage), a flashlight and a pencil, Paul struggles to find a way out and tries to get in contact with people on the other side.
The film runs a little over an hour and a half and it is very well paced. Director Rodrigo Cortes does a great job of capturing the claustrophobic, torturous and traumatic experience of being buried alive within one set location. Chris Sparling also turns in a very tight and thoughtful script, which gives Ryan Reynolds’ character enough emotional depth for the audience to get invested in him. It really goes to show how a film crew, with a good story and even a single location, can truly work around those limits and come up with something powerful and effective. Hitchcock’s Rope, Rear Window and Lifeboat have all proven that notion, making them cinematic classics. (Other good films with minimum set productions include Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men and Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth).
The film’s subject matter regards the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, where hostage taking, suicide bombing and insurgent attacks became common occurrences. With the United States and England battling terrorists, revolutionaries and radical militants in the war torn country, many civilians and government appointed workers of all varied nationalities have become unfortunate victims of collateral damage. Paul Conroy is one such victim, just a working man trying to make a living for his family.
We as the audience, never really leave coffin and we only see what Paul sees. We only hear what Paul hears. We also understand how Paul is just an average Joe who has been trapped in the crossfire. Because of his status as a regular no-name employee, he does not believe that his government will help him. Buried questions governments and also suggests a parallel between them and the people they fight. The real horror of the film is wondering whether the people who sponsor Paul can truly save him before his time is up.
With echoes of Poe mixed with Hitchcockian suspense, Buried is the type of film that Hollywood wishes it could make and should consider small budgets and better scripts for their future endeavors. Ryan Reynolds does not hold back in this film. He gives it his all and you find yourself continually rooting for him. It is a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination, and I hope he does get some recognition for a Bafta Award at the very least. The film is a must-see, and is highly recommended you do view the film on the big screen. It is not for the faint of heart (as overused and corny as that phrase may be). Buried is without a doubt, one of the best films to come out in 2010 and also one of the best (if not the single greatest) films to tackle the subject of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its consequences.
4.5 out of 5