film review: Buried (2010)


So… if you know me personally, or “like” the facebook page, then you’ve probably seen me going on about Buried for a while now. Course if you don’t you may have read the short “Trailer of the week” feature I did on it here or the “releasing this week” post I did mentioning it. I really want people to go see Buried

Buried Poster Ryan Reynolds Rodrigo Cortes“But ain’t it just a dude in a box for 90 mins?” I hear you ask. Well yes… But Rodrigo Cortés, Eduard Grau, Chris Sparling, the sound crew and, of course, Ryan Reynolds have conspired to make the most gripping movie about a guy in a box that you’re likely to see in a long time – I never like to say ever, forever is a long time.

Anyway. If you haven’t seen Buried yet I suggest you don’t actually read any more of this review. I am undoubtedly just about to build this film up a bit too much and I’d have hated it if that had happened to me. It should be up to you to make your mind up about such a singularly minded film as this one.

All I actually knew about it for the longest time was that it was about a guy in a box with a mobile and a zippo. Then, the day before, I ended up not being able to avoid a trailer and I found out that Reynolds was playing an American civilian truck driver called Paul Conroy who had been taken in Iraq during an ambush. I wasn’t entirely happy knowing that but I was glad when I watched the film, because well, at least I had some idea that it was about the war. So I guess it’s grand for ye to know as well.

Oh also, full disclosure, I’m not claustrophobic in any way. I’m not one of those people feeling suffocated at the trailer or by the mere concept of being buried alive. I mean I don’t think I’d like it, but it definitely doesn’t keep me up at night. So, I didn’t feel particularly claustrophobic watching Buried. It’s just not an issue for me. I guess it is for some people though, err… I can’t really comment on how you might feel about this film so.

But on with the review. In case you haven’t worked out. I loved it. For a little while I felt it was the best film of the year for me. Then I copped on to myself, after all, Toy Story 3 did come out this year as well. Still, I’ll go with Buried being the best completely original film of the year. And yes, I have seen Inception, twice.

Why, you ask? Well, to put it simply, I thought it was a most incredible feat of film-making. I probably haven’t talked about it recently but my favourite films, the ones at the very top of the pile for me, are the ones that have to be films… the stories that have to be seen, heard and felt, the ones where the film-makers take us to a place where you’re not merely being told a story, you’re believing it, because you can see it unfolding there in front of you. For me Buried is one of these films.

The ground rules on the whole phone thing are set early on, our friend Paul Conroy is trapped underground in a coffin with a mobile. He’s not buried so deep that he can’t get some coverage but it’s a bit patchy and his battery is running out so he can’t spend the whole time on the phone. Fair enough. I was a bit annoyed by some of the marketing things I did see about it though, the whole 90 mins of air thing and six feet under? Feels like someone popped them on the poster because it’s the kind of thing people expect. It doesn’t need that stuff.

To expand on the love of this film, I found it astounding that you could do so much with such a simple concept. I mean, it’s a film with a singular plot device and only one question that needs to be answered. How can you possibly make it compelling over 90 minutes? Well, I don’t really think he’s gonna win an Oscar for it but damn it, Reynolds works that box with his blood, sweat and tears to put you in there with him… and everyone else on the crew ratchets it up to 11 to make you believe it. Buried is intense and it’s hard going. There are moments of respite but I’ve never felt like I did at the end of this film. I felt like I’d been through the wringer… ok, I’ve felt awful at the end of some films, Grave of the Fireflies springs to mind, but I’ve never felt as emotionally exhausted as I did after this one.

Which is not to say that it’s a perfect film. It isn’t. There were a few things that annoyed me about it.

Couple of very small things first, I don’t think the dimensions of the box were entirely consistant and that niggled at me once or twice. Also, the first few minutes kind of annoyed me. I can only listen to a guy screaming and grunting in the dark for a limited amount of time. Fortunately it was fairly limited but it could have been more limited.

Secondly, while I absolutely and fully admire Ryan Reynolds for what he obviously went through and I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role… I wasn’t blown away by his performance. When you add in the physical and the lighting aspect of it then yes, it’s brilliant… but the look in his eyes, the fear in his voice, I don’t know, maybe there could have been more there. Believe me I feel selfish for even mentioning, it’s a great performance, amazing, but it’s just what I thought at the end of it.

Finally, there’s one scene in it that, if I could go up to the projectionist box with a scissors and cut those few minutes out, I’d do it. Apparently it wasn’t even in the original script that went around a while back. I don’t see why they put it in. Honestly, I think it was just filling time. Completely pointless.

There’s a few other criticisms I’ve read about it. The whole “war” thing comes up obviously. Personally, I don’t think they were trying to make a massive political statement. It’s there, it’s plot thing, I didn’t find it particularly important. Also, some people just didn’t find it that engaging or involving. Ok. Different strokes and all that. I didn’t love The Town *shrug*

So, needless to say I recommend people go see Buried. Sure, not everyone will love it as much as I did, some people will probably hate it… but I do think that it’s a film that deserves to be seen, at least once.


Buried is in Irish cinemas from Friday 1st October 2010.


  1. comment-avatar
    DanOctober 4, 2010 - 1:58 pm

    It’s good to read a positive review about Buried. I haven’t seen it yet but will catch it soon. I always thought that if the filmmakers could pull off the ‘guy in a box’ scenario, it would take a very skilled team. And, I do like films that are stripped bare like this, so there’s little room to move (both literally and metaphorically).

  2. comment-avatar
    Sean BrodyOctober 4, 2010 - 2:54 pm

    I saw this in a preview the other week.
    I liked it but didn’t love it. Ever since seeing him in The Nines I’ve always liked seeing Ryan Reynolds in movies.
    He does a good job here, but he’s too much of a movie star to deliver the desperation this role required. I thought it needed a character actor with some range rather than a polished wisecracker
    The film was very well paced and didn’t drag for the 90 min, but I always felt I was looking at a film-making feat rather than a guy trapped in a box.

    I could certainly have lived without the last phone call with Stephen Tobolowsky which I thought was unnecessary and totally broke the spell of the situation.

    I’m still telling anyone that asks that it’s worth seeing, but I’m not shaking the pom-poms for it.

  3. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tOctober 5, 2010 - 10:12 pm

    Hey Sean,

    I did love it but I can totally see how some won’t be blown away by it. It just depends on how much you buy into the concept I think. I am afraid the people will look at Reynolds as a bit too slick. I haven’t see him in much tbh so his casting was no odds to me… but maybe if they wanted everyone to take it seriously they should have got Ryan Gosling 😉

    I thought that phone call worked tbh, it was the one to his wife I thought was a little much at the time.

    In any case I do think, as a piece of film-making, it’s brilliant. I mean to keep people interested for 90 mins looking at a guy in a box is no mean feat… you can’t say they weren’t brave!

  4. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tOctober 5, 2010 - 10:15 pm

    Hey Dan,

    Would love to hear what you think of it when you do see it.

    I did love it myself but I don’t know that everyone will be as affected as I was. I knew pretty much nothing going into it, I was really into the idea and I saw it on a huge screen in a fairly empty theatre… so fairly ideal circumstances!

  5. comment-avatar
    RodneyMarch 9, 2011 - 10:12 am

    This film is released in Australia this week – I’ve already reserved my copy. I don’t understand why a lot of people have issues with Ryan Reynolds as an actor – okay, he’s made some stinkers in his time, but then who hasn’t, really? Perhaps with Buried, and maybe the upcoming Thor, people might start to take him seriously as an actor.

    Unless he does another Van Wilder.

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