Saturday, November 06, 2010

"Buried" (2010) - Movie Review

If you think buried alive is hopeless then you should watch “Buried” to see the 95 minutes step by step metaphorical burying of hope of Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds). It is an experiment, a good one and does not do it for the fun of it but has a character developing in the darkness and possible final moments of his life. Paul Conroy wakes up in a box, buried (duh!). He has is a zippo lighter, mobile phone and some other accessories he will get to find, have and acquire. His only friend and enemy will be the mobile phone with multimedia capability and the voices on the other end of the line. His turmoil will put us in more helplessness but also will be gripping.

Directed by Rodrigo Cortes, this is Ryan Reynolds all in experiment and he does it with complete commitment. The camera work by Eduard Grau works around the actor in the confined spaces and limitations. Reynolds is on every frame sans the time when he is devoid of light source. He is hurt, tired and running out of oxygen. More so he does not know where the heck he is. Who would want him buried and why? Slowly Paul in his few moments of short lived balance remembers that his convoy got hit by insurgents or Iraqis. He is not a soldier but a contract truck driver in Iraq for a corporation.

He finds the mobile and wonders whom to call. Who would you call? 911? Yes, he does that and everyone as expected are not able to make sense Paul’s predicament. He yells, screams, cries and begs. He gets transferred, put on hold, yelled at and told he is rude. He is screwed and there is nothing but the slow sense of getting dizzy and breathing his life out in a box in the middle of nowhere.

With such a bleak outlook towards the central character, “Buried” keeps you hooked. There are no flashbacks or any moment outside of the box. The limitation what Paul has is what we are shown. He has barely any place to move and the zippo is eating up the oxygen. He scrambles around and finally gets a call from the abductor asking 5 million and we understand the reason for providing a cell phone. Paul begins to call the US government and hopes to pay the ransom. In the midst of it is his employer calling to shatter one more news in the most unbelievable inhumanity in this scenario. It happens and I do not doubt people like that exist.

The strong suit of “Buried” is its attitude for not compromising. Your guessing game never ends till the credits rolls on what the hope Rodrigo Cortes is teasing us for. Ryan Reynolds gives a marathon of a performance, literally. He has the film to himself and it needs patience, consistency and endurance. He provides those. Though he does not come through as the gripping character one would hope for, he gives a human being and easily makes us to see ourselves in the coffin like him.

I remember a character in another film explaining that every human needs a measurable distance of space around themselves based on a survey or science. Claustrophobia is imminent in this situation and that dialogue reminded me of its gravity. We fight for space and territory and here there is no fight to be fought as the war is over before even it began. Paul does not give up. He calls his home and hopes to talk with his wife and son as the end appears to be soon.

The only distant resemblance of hope comes from an Englishman over the phone Dan Brenner (voice of Robert Paterson). He is the man the government has assigned for hostage situations like this. He consistently talks with Paul and provides snippets of subtle encouragement. Paul agonizes over him and does not believe him while Dan calmly tells him of other victims he managed to rescue. Paul half heartedly finds the only semblance of friend in Dan.

Despite the deepening and disturbing abyss of a scenario the film draws upon, it marginally stays on the entertainment mode which in any case is not wrong but sucks a little life out of this otherwise engrossing film. “Buried” should start making you feel miserable and helpless and should have ended in a more desolate place than that. It does but the affecting pain is over before you leave the theater. I cannot help but wonder why is that and I think Rodrigo Cortes despite his courageous attempt soft pedaled sub consciously. In no way I would hold that against the film. “Buried” should be watched purely for the way it makes you forget that a camera is rolling around the character. More than that to witness the director and Ryan Reynolds’ hard work.

1 comment:

CHUCKster said...

just watched it about 5 minutes ago.. still, i'm speechless.. i finished it until the end of the credits portion because i still wasn't able to move after the last scene, just lying on my bed, staring at the screen.. and then i smiled. what a great movie! magnifico!