Film review: Buried | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Film review: Buried

Director: Rodrigo Cortés

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Robert Paterson

Running Time: 95 mins

Buried fits into the film genre of small-set-big-peril, whereby an everyman is trapped in a dangerous situation with limited resources and time. In this instance, Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) awakes to find himself buried alive. Previous entries in this genre include Saw, Cube, Fermat’s Room, Phone Booth and many more. Unfortunately, Buried cannot live up to its predecessors.

The biggest element lacking here is mystery. The aforementioned films kept us watching because we wanted answers: who are the characters? Who is responsible for their current predicament? Where are they? How do they escape?

But Paul Conroy already knows the answers to these questions. Quite simply, he was ambushed by terrorists in Iraq: another tired post-9/11 terrorists-are-villains plot. Therefore, there is little intrigue to keep us going and no twist awaits those who do reach the end credits. And reaching the end credits might be harder than you expect because this is an uncomfortable watch.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Director Rodrigo Cortes delivers a master class in suspense and claustrophobic filmmaking, helping to compensate for the mystery lacking in the story. Cortes also provides an impressive amount of shots and variety considering he is restricted to a coffin sized space. He enjoys playing with different lighting techniques and colours, depending on what is emitting the light: mobile phone (blue), lighter (orange), glow stick (green) or torch (red/yellow). The sound editing is equally captivating: wood creaking, sand pouring, Reynolds shuffling and his trusty mobile vibrating around the box.

All in all, Cortes might have overtaken Tarantino as the go-to-guy for buried alive plots – even if he does include over-the-top scenes that jar with the overall tone. A snake attack? A fire? Really?

Reynolds should also get a thumbs-up for accepting the challenge. He could quite easily have continued living the high-life, cashing pay cheques for A-list rom-coms and superhero movies. He could have just stayed at home with the ol’ ball-and-chain, a certain Scarlett Johansson. But instead, he opted for a month of rolling around in the dirt for this low-budget indie flick. More than anything, this shows Reynolds is keen to keep reinventing himself and flex his acting muscles wherever possible.

Ultimately, both Cortes and Reynolds deserve an A for effort. The direction and the performance are impressive considering the restricted environment. However, this is best reserved for cinephiles and appreciators of the craft. If you’re looking for Friday night popcorn entertainment then keep looking.


28th September 2010 at 12:05 pm

Last Updated

28th September 2010 at 1:59 pm