Brandon's Sundance 2010 Review: Rodrigo Cortés' Buried
by Brandon Lee Tenney
January 31, 2010
One location. One actor. One phenomenal filmmaking achievement. Directed by Rodrigo Cortes, starring Ryan Reynolds, Buried is the story of Paul Conroy who, after his convoy is attacked in Iraq, is buried alive inside a coffin with only a lighter and a cell phone. That's it. For 94 minutes, we, the audience, are inside that coffin with Paul. As impossible as it might sound, it works. It's tense and horrifying. Claustrophobic, shocking, and awe-inspiring -- if not always because of the script, then because of the filmmaking. Buried's directing, cinematography, editing, and score all act in concert to form a remarkably singular vision. Rodrigo Cortes' confidence and sheer talent are the paramount reasons why this film is so successful.
The film is not without its problems, though. There are some seriously major logic holes that require more than a little suspension of one's disbelief. Paul is provided a cell phone which receives perfect reception despite it being buried beneath the earth. If, as they say in the movie, he's only buried a few feet deep instead of many, then why and how does so much dirt come into play later? Wouldn't using a lighter inside such a confined space with a limited oxygen supply deplete said oxygen supply much quicker than is let on? Buried also borders on offensively manipulative. Some decisions are made by Paul that feel false, though to imagine myself in his position is next to impossible.
Buried walks that fine line between what makes the best story and what feels the most real. I wholeheartedly agree that the story, above all, should take precedent. It's what films are. It's what we as the audience respond to. The balance between the two, however, is a tricky get. And it's this balance that's off, if just by a bit.
All of the above is certainly not meant to overshadow the overwhelming achievement that is Buried. To transform an inclosed, buried coffin into the entire world of a film is astonishing. To film that world, create obstacles within it -- not just without -- and produce a taught, intense film of so high a caliber is nothing short of awesome. For Ryan Reynolds to so fully commit to a character so hopelessly ensnared, to carry an entire film on his back like some Atlas of old is simply a joy to watch. That this film is able to not only scare its audience, raising the collective heart rate to well over 180, and fit in a very poignant commentary on the U.S. government's love affair with corporate bureaucracy is wonderful. Because even though Buried is not without its problems, its accomplishments are so far and above the expected, the imaginable, that it's nothing short of a success.
It's a great film. Will it sweep the zeitgeist like Paranormal Activity? Perhaps. It's certainly one to see in a theatre with an audience. It's an experience not to be missed, regardless.
Brandon's Sundance Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 9 Comments
good review, read the script and just knew it would be epic on screen.
Xerxex on Jan 31, 2010
Bandon, I'll take your word for it. As far as wanting to see it, there'll come a day when I'll be put in my own coffin for good so I have no interest in spending 94 minutes in someone else's.
Hattori Hanzo on Jan 31, 2010
I watching this last night at the final midnight showing in Park City. After reading the script 6 months ago I knew I had to see it. I honestly didn't think it would translate to the screen very well, but wanted to see how they were going to attempt it. Needless to say, my expectations were met and surpassed. Amazing film. Great fun. Highly recommended.
Knawx on Jan 31, 2010
^^^^^ I am amazed at my perfect grammar sometimes ^^^^^
knawx on Jan 31, 2010
it would have been so funny if uwe boll directed this hahaha and at #4 im very amazed too
Spider94 on Jan 31, 2010
This is one of the films I really want to see, as well as Kids are all Right and Blue Valentine.
M on Jan 31, 2010
Brandon liked the Review of Buried from Sundance, There is flaws in all movies of some kind that you Expect, But the thing is that worried me was can Ryan Reynolds keep this film going for 94 mins and keep you intrested in the subject matter.
Cineprog on Feb 1, 2010
Amazing film. Definately a must see! You're constantly on the edge of your seat and at times will find yourself feeling the pain of Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds). Sure to be a top box office thriller!
condo on Feb 2, 2010
I want to see this to see how well Reynolds can hold his own, as he has to me seemed like a talented and charismatic actor that is sometimes sold short by the studios. And on an unrealted to Sundance track, another film with an interesting premise is Frozen, which I also hope to see.
dave13 on Feb 4, 2010
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