Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Buried is pretty much a perfect thriller.  Nightmarishly perfect.  I mean – what could be worse than being buried alive in a creaky coffin in the Iraqi desert with only a Zippo lighter and a cell phone at your disposal?  I know what could be worse – if you were put there by terrorists who are demanding $5 million for your safe return.  And nobody on the other line is taking you seriously.  And then -- shit! -- there's a snake slithering down your leg!  That’s the gripping scenario posed by Buried, the fantastic and diabolical directing debut of Rodrigo Cortes, who I am sure is getting offered every big project that Hollywood has in the hopper.  How Ryan Reynolds isn’t getting more acclaim for his one-man-show of a performance is mystifying; similar to James Franco in 127 Hours, his work should be considered to be nothing short of a tour de force.  He’s on screen in every single shot of Buried.  Never once does the camera cut away from the inside of the coffin; no flashbacks, no hallucinations, no easy ways out for the filmmakers to cut themselves some slack.  Chris Sparling’s ingenious (and by the end totally insidious) screenplay is clever when it needs to be, tight and spare at all times, and never feels impossibly contrived given the schematics of the plot.  How will this guy ever be able to make it out of the coffin alive?  Will anyone he speaks to via his cell phone actually be able to help?  Buried is gripping from its very first frame, due largely in part to the phenomenal, award-worthy cinematography by Eduard Grau (A Single Man).  Shooting in full 2.35:1 widescreen with Reynolds dominating every frame and with what appeared to be only natural light sources, Buried is always visually interesting and frequently astonishing to look at, which is no small feat considering the solo location and cramped shooting space.  Cortes and Grau’s ability to keep their audience guessing through strategic uses of pitch blackness from inside of the coffin is one of the reasons that the film is as riveting as it is.  The dynamic use of sound also helps create a harrowing atmosphere.  This isn’t a film for the faint of heart and it’s not what I’d exactly call a happy-go-lucky picture.  But for people who liked to be scared just a bit and for those looking to be totally engrossed by a top-notch thriller, look no further than Buried.

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