Imagine being in a wooden box with nothing but a lighter and a mobile phone to keep your sanity. Well that's the basic premise of the 2010 film Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy. It was written by Chris Sparling and directed by Rodrigo Cortes. The movie received critical acclaim, which I thought was well-deserved, and had respectable earnings considering it grossed almost 20 million on a budget of less than 2 million.
I already read the plot before watching the movie so I already knew what was going to happen, and how it would end. I usually do the same for other movies. But, sometimes, there are films that make me wish I didn't, and Buried just made it to that list. After watching the entire movie, I wished I hadn't gone to Wikipedia and read the plot, especially not the ending. Whatever you do, if you plan on watching this fantastic film, don't read any spoilers, or visit its Wiki page.
I was still surprised when I saw the film though. I knew Reynolds would be trapped in a box, but I didn't expect the full 90 minutes of the film to be focused on him. I assumed the other actors would be shown in an office or something, or that his wife would be shown talking to him. I was surprised to find out that the camera would be on Reynolds the whole time. The filmmakers didn't have much room. Everything was limited by the corners of the box, although of course they used space outside the box. However, as a whole, it was pretty much contained in that one box.
The start of the movie was genius! It was dark, nothing could be seen but noises could be heard. Without showing anything, I knew exactly what was happening. I heard a struggle, and a restraint. Then a fire from a lighter appears and all the speculations were confirmed. There he was tied up in a wooden box. In fact, the film relied heavily on its audio much more than its visuals. There were a lot of times when the screen remained black to depict the darkness of the setting. However, it also made sure that viewers were still aware of what was happening through the background noise. I knew when Conroy was searching for something, if he was moving, if he was crying. Everything I heard made me visualize what was happening in that tiny box.
It had a strong story line, a well-written script, and great acting from Reynolds. I still find it weird at times to see him in these kind of roles mainly because I've been accustomed to seeing him in comedic roles. I remember watching Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, which did pretty well until the network chose to sabotage it and placed it on a Friday timeslot. I know he has done a lot of non-comedy films, but I still associate comedy to his name. He did gave an awesome performance in this film though, which ultimately proves how versatile he is.
*Everything below shows my personal insight, in a semi-reflective way. The following section is not exactly a review but more of an analysis. This part will contain spoilers as well. So allow me to give this a try.
I think the movie was about desperation. In the movie, Conroy did things in order to have a tiny bit of hope that he would get out of there alive. He called everyone he thought could help him. He did everything people told him to do to save his friend, his family and himself. The whole movie was an act of desperation of a man who got trapped in the face of death.
The movie shows the danger of war and terrorism as well. If you watched the film, you'd know that the kidnappers weren't exactly terrorists, or at least that's how I understood it. They were regular citizens caught in the middle of the war between Iraq and the United States. With every war comes famine and the inability to get hold of certain necessities. This lack of power then drives people to commit crimes as a response to their needs. That was how Conroy ended up in a wooden box, buried under the ground. It was a means to extract money - money the kidnappers can use. There's a chance I'm wrong in this interpretation, but that's how I understood the scenario.
It also talks about the inefficiency of several institutions. Sure, the situation was extreme, and there's not really much people could do. However, it was very apparent how he was transferred from one person to another until someone finally addressed the situation. However, as the movie reveals, he wasn't much of a help either.
What really frustrated me was how the company Conway worked for wanted to deny their responsibilities to Conroy. The sad reality is these companies do exist. There are corporations who treat their staff as tools, and the moment their profits get threatened, they immediately cut their connections with them. I just couldn't believe that the company would do that to him, especially at a time like that. It must've crushed Paul Conroy to know that he would die and his family would not get any assistance from the company, which had a hand in causing his misery.
For a film that used a box for its setting, this film had a lot to offer. Thrill, drama, social commentaries are just some of them. I was a little doubtful at first since the premise didn't look too exciting but Cortes definitely abused that box and created this masterpiece. From the looks of it, not a lot of people have seen the film, which, I think, is a great shame.