Sunday, February 6, 2011


Directed by Rodrigo Cortés, Buried is about a man, Paul (Ryan Reynolds), who wakes up in a coffin, with nothing but a Zippo and a cell phone that isn't his. We don't know how he got there or who Paul really is as a person. All we know is unless he gets very lucky, he will die. What makes this film such a ballsy one is this entire movie is seen from Paul's perspective in the coffin. The entire movie. It is difficult to imagine how watching Ryan Reynolds sweat and scream in such a claustrophobic narrative for 90 minutes can successfully be pulled off without boring the audience to tears, but amazingly, it gets the job done better than most people probably expected.

Thanks to the cellphone, we have some access to the outside world, and we learn more about Paul in general. The people he talks to have an unusual way of lifting the tension and suspension inside the little coffin, often playing with Paul's hopes and spirits of getting out alive (but mostly negatively). Rodrigo Cortés is a relatively a newcomer, having only directed one other feature. This is also (at least to my knowledge), his first English-spoken film.  If there are still debates questioning his talents as a filmmaker, let this film end them all. Cortés manages to use sound, lighting, camera and editing in such a way that I was entirely engaged into the film the whole way through. There is so much one can do in such a limited space, but Cortés takes those possibilities to heights I haven't before imagined. I questioned Reynold's ability to carry out a convincing performance, but he is very effective, and proves he has got some talent in him. Even though he is the only physically present character in the entire film, he manages to be a very convincing and sympathetic person. As expected, there are aspects in the screenplay that seem "too convenient" or plausible, such as the cellphone's entire existence in the film, but without the phone, the movie would more than likely have been a complete drag. And being a movie entirely shot in such a confined area, it is excusable and understandable to overlook these things.  It is difficult to discuss that film or attempt to persuade one to see it, because I have said all that I can about it without ruining it, as it is obviously a very simple premise. I can only promise that you won't regret checking it out.

Note: One of the voices on the other end of Paul's cellphone is that of Stephen Tobolowsky, a very funny and talented man indeed. He is one of those "that guy" faces that you see in many movies, but can't recall where you've seen it before. I highly recommend checking out his podcast, where he tells various stories about the film industry and his life in general.