x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Buried takes a simple film device and does wonders

The film's Spanish director manages to capture Ryan Reynolds's ordeal from every conceivable cinematic angle, and even manages to find a few comedic moments in the doom-drenched story.

Ryan Reynolds in Buried.
Ryan Reynolds in Buried.

Buried
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, José Luis García Pérez, Robert Paterson
****

In the television world, they call it a "bottle episode". Originally a way of saving money on sets and supporting actors, many great shows would trap the main characters in a room for the length of a single episode and allow the claustrophobic setting to inspire the kind of drama, suspense and explosive dialogue that could only come from a contained situation. The independent feature Buried takes this idea to its logical conclusion: a man is buried alive in a wooden box, from which the camera's gaze never wavers. He may have been a little uneven of late, but Reynolds gives a powerful and honest performance as the man who wakes, bound and gagged, to a living nightmare. In the box with him is a zippo lighter and - crucially - a mobile phone, which offers his only hope of salvation. After several frantic calls to emergency numbers and family members, we begin to piece together how he has found himself in the terrifying position. Questions are raised over whether he is in some way responsible for the situation, but the film also attempts to explore the value that societies place on the lives of their citizens. Buried's deeply oppressive tone will no-doubt divide audiences, but its sheer inventiveness cannot be disputed. Spain's Cortés manages to capture Reynolds's ordeal from every conceivable thematic and cinematic angle, and even manages to find a few comedic moments in the doom-drenched story. Few films manage to do so much with so little.

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