I’ve always felt that a movie is a quality film if it makes you feel something emotionally, whether it be happiness, depression, fear or anything else. On some level, all films strive to reach a specific emotion, but few films are actually able to accomplish this. BURIED is able to tug at the emotional strings, but what’s most impressive about this film is its ability to make you feel something physically. This is a hard movie to watch because it’s filmed in such a way that makes you actually feel claustrophobic. The screen begins to close in on you and before you know it, you find yourself taking deep breaths just to get your breathing back on track. The originality and uniqueness of this film make it great, but people with low tolerance to claustrophobia are going to have a hard time getting through it.
As an admirer of great films, there are many things to take in with BURIED. For starters, the simplicity of the movie is amazing. For 90 minutes, we watch Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) in a box…literally. We quickly learn that he’s an American contractor in Iraq and that he’s been buried alive. For 90 minutes, camera never leaves the coffin and there are no flashbacks. He has a cell phone in his coffin, but we don’t cut away to the people on the other end of the phone, we simply hear them speak. Director Rodrigo Cortes was relentless in his treatment of the audience and he didn’t want you to catch your breath for a second. He wanted you to feel as if you were trapped in that same box and his decision to film it so simply was brilliant. If he had cut away, even once, it would have ruined the film.
I liked Ryan Reynolds before, but now I can honestly say I respect him as an actor. First for even taking a role this small and this risky and second for pulling it off so wonderfully. This is Ryan Reynolds buried alive and there are no gimmicks or tricks to hide his flaws. In fact, there’s nothing to help him deliver his lines. He has a cell phone and a lighter for most of the film and that’s just about it. He couldn’t even rely on fast editing because there was nowhere to edit. Cortes basically turned the camera on and then told Reynolds to make the audience believe. And he did.
The other aspect of BURIED that made it so great was that it never once sold out. The audience was hanging on every word and clinching their chairs in hopes that Superman was going to bust through and Hollywood would give us a storybook ending, but it didn’t happen. From the onset of the film, the amount of hope generated by the voices on the other end of the phone calls was minimal. In fact, it was just enough to keep Paul and the audience going. True, there were some moments that were questionable and some things that didn’t quite fit, but the way this story was told and the chances it took are not to be overlooked.
Video: Given the minimal lighting and mostly dark nature of the film, this is a quality video transfer.
Audio: There are virtually no sound effects to be had, just Ryan Reynolds coming through the front speaker.
Unearthing Buried (17:58): Most of this featurette was spent on how they actually accomplished the scenes, but it wasn’t enough for a film this original. I appreciated this 17 minute featurette, but I wanted more.
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