I managed to see Buried a few days ago on the last day it was playing which I was thankful for. I had wanted to make sure I saw this movie in the cinema rather than on my laptop screen as it sounded amazing and got nothing but high praise from critics I trust. A film that was on a blacklist for many years due to being considered unfilmable had now apparently been turned into a masterpiece starring the much underrated Ryan Reynolds.
While it was enjoyable, I found it didn’t really live up to expectations. Despite most people claiming it invoked a claustrophobic feeling or tense atmosphere, I didn’t get any of that. I found it entertaining and intriguing more than anything. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t feel tense…possibly because I expected that Paul Conroy was going to inevitably escape. The fact that didn’t happen was interesting but ultimately didn’t change anything. With this sort of movie I guess it is hard to change the expectations that the audience is going to have. Ryan Reynolds gives a great performance and while you don’t know the character very well it is trivial to identify with his plight. Things are kept interesting throughout the movie as he desperately tries to find someone to help him by calling 911, his employers, his wife, the FBI, trying to reason with his captors etc.
For a film that is entirely shot in a box the film never becomes visually boring. Everything is made visual from his calls on his phone, sources of light etc. Everything that starts happening to him is shown visually such as finding supplies, sand starting to cave in, finding an unwelcome snake sharing his space. I never once felt bored during the film at all, but at the same time I never felt that attached. I was always interested to see where the film was going but I expected it to have an atmosphere closer to The Departed or Frozen or something. Something to invoke concern and anxiousness rather than casually seeing where the story goes. I do think it is amazing that the film is shot with the character in the coffin the entire time, not leaving it once although this also results in some strange decisions. There is one point where the camera zooms out for maybe a whole minute as the coffins gets smaller and further away, which just feels out of place.
The main thing I thought about from the film was that it reminded me of how much people can suck, much like District 9 did. I can understand the position the US Government takes given what they are faced with but there is little excuse for the cold indifference and lack of concern displayed by nearly every person that he calls. Possibly the worst moment in the movie is when his employer fires him over the phone to eliminate him as a liability and then makes him participate in a recorded interview to cover their asses. It’s conduct like that that I would hope corporations’ burn for.
There were a few things that seemed strange. It is pointed out to him that he is probably only 2 or 3 feet below ground, and the coffin he is in is shown to be rather weak and poor enough to let a snake in as well a horde of sand. Given that the coffin is also large than normal, why not do your best to kick your way out? Surely with the added adrenaline breaking through a rotting poorly held together wooden box would not be that difficult? I suppose if he did this it would be the end of the movie quite quickly, although I would have liked it if he had at least tried.
I know that a lot of people were talking about the movie being an allegory for the war in Iraq, although I have to say I didn’t really see this at all. It might be there, but it could also be something that is very easy to project onto the movie. Buried is definitely an entertaining movie although I don’t think it lives up to the hype. I will be very interested to see in which direction the director Rodrigo Cortés goes next.