Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buried Is Truly A One Of A Kind Masterpiece

No one thought that a movie with one lone actor in one location for over ninety minutes would work out, but this Cynic says that director Rodrigo Cortes has done the impossible with his new film "Buried". Working from a script written by Chris Sparling, Cortes makes the tension both palpable and believable. As the clock ticks down, the movie's motif of fear grows as one man comes to accept his own demise. The story works because Ryan Reynolds does an amazing job of bringing an emotional depth to his character.

Paul Conroy (Reynolds) wakes after his truck convoy is ambushed, where he finds himself buried alive in a small wooden coffin. Left with only a small zippo lighter, a cell phone, and a couple of light bars, he uses the lighter to assess his situation and that is exactly when his panic sets in. Paul has to find an immediate way to come to terms with his predicament. Once his initial panic recedes, Paul calms down and starts phoning anyone that he can think of for help. Paul runs into the typical Government bureaucracy, and his situation becomes increasingly grave as his phone drifts in and out of reception. Ultimately, Paul's fears are confirmed when he answers a mysterious call, to find that his captor Jabir (Jose Luis Garcia Perez) wants five million dollars ransom for his release.

As time ticks away, we hear other voices in conversations with Paul: Alan Davenport (Stephen Tobolowsky) who is Paul's Boss; Dan Brenner (Robert Paterson) a U.S. hostage team negotiator; and lastly his wife Linda (Samantha Mathis). To say that the impact of these calls hits hard would be an understatement. The urgency in Paul's voice as he fights to cling to any hope is hard to listen to and we hear the exact moment he realizes that he is doomed. To give away any more would take away from the films impact. As Paul frantically tries to figure out a way to escape, the audience is right there feeling the claustrophobia. Cortes does this especially effectively with camera work that zooms in and out of the confined space.

Sound and light are also used efficiently. The noises from outside the coffin help to ratchet the tension, and the differing light sources reflect Paul's fluctuating emotions. Clearly writer Chris Sparling was inspired by the master himself, as he cleverly toys with Paul and manipulates the emotions of the audience in a manner that would have made Hitchcock proud. There are a few moments where you will be shaking your head in disbelief, but for the most part, the story rings true, making the grim proceedings all the more terrifying.

I give Buried 3 and a half stars because of the performance of the lone on screen actor. Films of this type hinge on that actor's ability to take the audience along for the ride. Reynolds does just that with a truly amazing performance. Paul goes through a list of emotions throughout the movie but never allows himself to become overly melodramatic. We can clearly see that Conroy is no angel, with his attitude often exacerbating the situation, but yet he retains your sympathy thanks to the humanity with which he is played.

Buried is rated R for Language and Some Violent Content
Running time is 1 hr. 35 mins.
Distributed by Lionsgate Films

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