October 15, 2010

Buried - 2010

Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer: Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
"My name is Paul Conroy, I'm a truck driver in Iraq, and I need help." Cortés makes his English-language feature debute with this thriller about Paul Conroy (Reynolds), a private contractor sent to Iraq to deliver supplies, whose convoy is ambushed while on a routine drive. The film opens with Conroy gaining consciousness in a coffin scarcely large enough to contain him, along with a lighter and a cell phone. His initial attempts to reach the outside world prove unsuccessful, his captors are demanding an unreasonable ransom of $5 million, and saying that finding a single coffin buried in the Iraqi desert is a difficult undertaking is a gross understatement.

This film is incredible. It's probably the most intense, thrilling movie I've seen all year, and maybe since I've started seriously watching movies. Buried is, if nothing else, a tour de force for Reynolds, but it has to be; he's virtually the sole living thing you see for 90 minutes (the first seven of which are completely sans dialogue as he discerns and comes to terms with his location as best he can). Along with the acting, cinematography makes this film a double-header. Aside from a few overhead shots, the camera is always inside the coffin, heightening the sense of claustrophobia. The only way to further get inside Conroy's head would be to shoot it all in POV, which probably wouldn't have worked as well. The above screenshot is the brightest the movie gets, with most of the duration wavering between total darkness and shots like this. The script is very well written, despite a plothole or two (which any movie can have if you pick it apart enough), and some arguably unnecessary suspension of disbelief regarding the effect of a Zippo lighter on a limited air supply. I was initially wary that ex-Van Wilder put in such a limited space might not be worth my time and money, but my fears were completely unfounded. A+
Note: I saw the film with my girlfriend, who had a diametrically opposed opinion about it. Most of her complaints stemmed from either overuse of the lighter and lack of proactivity on Conroy's part regarding his situation. Saying any more would spoil it, but I'd really like to hear what you all think about this one. Please see it if you can.

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