Can Ryan Reynolds act his way out of a box? "Buried" is the English language debut of Rodrigo Cortés. Ryan Reynolds stars as Paul Conroy a US contractor working in Iraq. After an ambush by a group of Iraqis, Paul finds himself buried alive inside of an old wooden coffin. Trapped with only a phone and his lighter, Paul must escape his claustrophobic death trap. The entire 94-minute film takes place inside the coffin without any cutaways to the outside world. Aside from the phone that he is buried with, there are no characters (yes the phone is a character) onscreen in this film.
The premise behind this movie doesn't seem like it can fill the entire runtime without getting tiresome, but it manages to keep your interest until the very last scene. The thought of an entire film inside an eight foot wooden box may seem visually boring, constantly using the camera angles, but the cinematography manages to make every shot visually interesting. All of the light sources come only from the items that are buried with Paul. The cinematographer, Eduard Grau, has manages to create compositions that are energetic and filled with movement, including a beautiful dolly shot inside the coffin.
The film, not without its problems, does not always hold true to reality. Somehow Paul is able to use his cell phone under several feet of dirt, while everyone living in Los Angeles knows that cell phones don't always get the best signal. Also Paul is able to use his a little too often than he should be able to. When nit-picking any high concept film one will almost always run into little problems, but these problems will not prevent you from enjoying this movie.
Some viewers may be turned off by the casting of Ryan Reynolds in a film that relies completely on his performance alone. Those people will be completely justified in their worries. Ryan Reynolds has shown that he can be funny and make us laugh, but with "Buried" he displays range that anchors the entire film. This film blows everything else that he has done out of the water, he plays his role believably and realistically causing the audience to care and feel for him. Ryan Reynolds' performance is a definite contender for the best of the year, with a ton of potential for nominations come awards time.
Where this film excels is in achieving so much with so little to work with. It is not only an excellent example of minimalistic film-making, but a fantastic film in its own right. This film is a tough sell and may turn off people with its seemingly boring concept, but if you love tense thrillers then see this film and have everyone you know see it as well, because this is a surely highlight in an otherwise dull year.