Quint thinks the Ryan-Reynolds-In-A-Box flick BURIED is claustrophobic, suspenseful and just plain awesome! LIONSGATE PICKED UP!
Published at: Jan. 24, 2010, 6:38 p.m. CST by headgeek
Word just broke that BURIED was picked up by LIONSGATE!!! FYI - Harry
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. It’s currently 20 till three in the morning, I’ve been awake 17 hours, conducted 3 interviews, written two reviews and watched 3 films, but before I slept (got an 11am movie, which means I have to be awake at 9:30am) I had to put my thoughts down on the Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes movie, BURIED. Again, forgive any shitty writing. I don’t usually get to have good excuses for my mistakes, so I’m taking full advantage of it now, by God!
Buried is one of those high concept movies that either work like gangbusters are just fall as flat as Keira Knightley. I’m happy to report this film falls in the former category.
The premise is simple, the location is simple, the filmmaking and sole on-screen performance are not.
Reynolds plays a contractor truck driver in Iraq who is taken hostage when his convoy is attacked by insurgents… or terrorists… who knows? We never see any of this by the way.
The opening of the movie is a fantastically designed Saul Bassian opening titles piece with a fantastic score by Victor Reyes, but then the audience is immersed in blackness. Not darkness, but pure black. And it lasts for an uncomfortably long time until we hear someone moving and started to panic.
It’s not an exaggeration that we never see anyone else but Ryan Reynolds and we never leave the coffin he’s buried in, so all credit goes to director Rodrigo Cortes for making the movie visually interesting for its entire runtime.
There are a lot of other people who deserve praise for making this work, but Cortes had the toughest job in my view. Well, him and his cinematographer, Eduard Grau. This isn’t just a typical indie two people in a room movie, this is one man trapped in a coffin and is seen only in firelight (from his zippo) or other natural light, like from a cell phone.
They shoot the movie very claustrophobically, naturally. They kind of have to, don’t they? Lots of extreme close ups, POV shots and camera movement as limited as Reynolds’ character.
The next pat on the back goes to screenwriter Chris Sparling who very cleverly set up this scenario and paced it so that by the end your heart is going to be pounding and your breaths are going to be shallow. He created a character in Paul Conroy that you sympathize with, that you pull for, that you just plain like.
And then there’s Ryan Reynolds. It took putting him in a box covered in dirt, sweat and blood to disguise him. Don’t get me wrong… I’m no hater of the dude. I like his timing, I like his charisma, I like the roles he chooses, but even at his best you recognize the dude straight away.
He’s not suddenly someone new here, of course, but he’s slightly less Ryan Reynoldsy if that makes any sense. So, I think people who have a bug up their butts with this guy might actually enjoy him in this movie.
And he knocks it out of the park. Having such limitations put on him forces him to flex different acting muscles, playing the panic, anger and desperation of the character.
He also doesn’t have anyone else to help support him. He’s literally the only actor we ever physically see. He does have a cell phone, provided by his captors, but all the information is in Arabic and he has to call numbers by memory. This phone could be his salvation, but it’s also a connection to his tormentors. Through video txt and stills he’s shown things that tortures him more than his rapidly depleting oxygen.
You’ll recognize some of the voices on the phone, like Samantha Mathis and the great character actor Stephen Tobolowsky, and Reynolds’ exchanges with these different people, his slow progression from random 911 operator to FBI people to his family helps set the pace for the flick and solves that horrible problem a lot of these high concept films have… if they only have one character that character is usually talking to him or herself and that’s usually pretty ridiculous.
There are some places where you have to suspend some disbelief, but it’s all small stuff. If you’re invested in the character you’re in it until the end.
Buried is kind of a complete package. It’s fresh, it’s new, there’s a great lead performance, inventive directing, tight script and some genuine tension that builds and builds until you don’t think you can take it anymore.
I can see a mini-major swooping this up and selling it as a different kind of suspense film and making some real cash. I hope so, it’s a good flick and deserves a good release.