Wednesday 6 October 2010

A few words on Buried

I've often found that many of the best books have very simple premises, and the same is sometimes true of films as well. I've always liked the original Saw film for its simplicity: two men awake in a filthy bathroom, chained to the walls, with no idea of how they got there. 

Buried starts with an even more simple premise: Paul Conroy, a truck driver working in a Middle Eastern trouble spot, awakes to find himself buried alive in a rough coffin, with - initially - only a phone and a zippo lighter for company. After overcoming the terror that initially engulfs him, Conroy starts to make frantic phone calls in a desperate attempt to organise his own rescue. But with oxygen - and battery life - in short supply, he finds himself in a desperate race against time. 

Ryan Reynolds excels as Conroy, turning in a very convincing display as his character flits from one emotion to another: terror, anger, frustration, sorrow. His believable performance is augmented by the sheer oppressiveness of his situation; the camera never leaves his coffin, so the watcher effectively spends the entire film locked in that cramped, dark space - Conroy's phone and lighter providing the light. The end result is an uncomfortably realistic depiction of the horror of being imprisoned six feet under. 

Conroy's conversations with a variety of figures drives the story, and adds additional emotional depth. Some conversations are moving (his declaration of love to his wife) while others explore the cynical self-preservation employed by major corporations (Conroy's boss telling him he's fired and that the company won't pay insurance to his family in the event of his death ). The voice acting of some figures is unconvincing; sometimes the tone of the other person doesn't quite fit with the current emotion of Conroy, while the voice of 'Jabir' the antagonist is rather lacking in character - "You give one million money. Now!" - and is perhaps a missed opportunity to explore the insurgents' motives more. 

Unconvincing segments of voice acting aside, Buried makes for an extremely uncomfortable two hours - for all the right reasons. 


Jebus said...

I won a free double pass and will be seeing this soon, I've been quite looking forward to it.

Eric M. Edwards said...

How does the phone manage to pick up a signal, under all that earth? Mine won't generally even do it inside Tesco's.

It sounds a bit too much like a feature length advertisement for Orange Mobile (or whatever version appears in the film) and Bic lighters.

Glad you enjoyed it though,


Jebus said...

Saw it last night and loved it. Reynolds really gets to show how good of an actor her is and I seriously liked the conclusion to the film.

I also agree that the voice acting wasn't brilliant and at times seemed kind of off-key, but either way it's a definite 4/5 for me.