Wednesday, 16 February 2011

DVD Review: Buried

BURIED - On Blu-ray & DVD Now

I previewed the cinema release for Buried way back in September, promising to watch and review the film. Well I failed on my latter promise, yet succeeded with the first. Admittedly, I was surprised to discover it was actually included in my local VUE listings. Not your average film I would have assumed would been showing, as they rarely stray from endless repetition of mainstream, blockbuster-type rubbish a la Transformers 2, but there you go.

To some, the concept of a man trapped in a coffin for 90 minutes would turn them off instantly. Some will begrudgingly give it a chance when they realise Ryan Reynolds is starring. One thing I would say - one must be open minded to all film to appreciate the medium of film as a whole, and this is certainly applicable in this instance. For me, I took my own advice and was positively excited about the entire prospect.

I've always been fascinated by films that depict regular people (often based on 'true events') finding themselves in perilous situations, as per 127 Hours, which was my most recent enjoyable experience of such a genre. The concept of joe average thrown into an impending doom scenario (for example in the case of Open Water; stranded in the ocean about to be devoured by sharks) significantly ups the interest factor...That doesn't make me a masochist, does it?

Firstly, the script for Buried is very well written. The story focuses on truck driver Paul (Ryan Reynolds) whom awakens to discover his unfortunate fate of not only being sealed in a coffin, but being buried alive whilst working in Iraq. Left with little more than a lighter, pen and mobile phone, these 'tools' end up proving to be essential devices that expand and drive the story. 

It's important to note that, as I first saw this film in the cinema, the DVD or Blu ray experience tends to differ, but only in a minor way.  For example, the opening scene starts in complete darkness, leaving the cinema in complete darkness too, with only the desperate gasps and grunts of someone shuffling around in what sounds like a very confined space. Experiencing the same scene, even on a 40-inch television, doesn't quite capture the same intensity, nor does it transport you into the coffin as effectively as the cinematic experience does. However, whilst subtle criticism can be made in regard to atmosphere and audience engagement of certain scenes (although some may deem it 'nit picking'), the film still convinces as a powerful and desperate story of a man essentially awaiting death.
The pace of the narrative moves at a slow, yet intense rate.  As the claustrophobia begins to set in, the all too real panic accentuates just how Paul is feeling, yet it is Reynolds’s excellent portrayal that allows the story to succeed in making you feel every tense moment as the reality of his predicament becomes clearer.

Shot last year in Barcelona, director Rodrigo Cortés undertook a short and highly intense shooting schedule which saw the set void of green screen or CGI, with Reynolds actually trapped inside a make shift coffin for the entirety of the shoot. Naturally such a tough schedule would cause problems for the most hardened star. Having squeezed more than 30 shots per day in little over 2 weeks is, gruelling to say the least, but Reynolds, being the professional he is merely got on with it. It was reported that as the filming went on, Reynolds became more claustrophobic, which comes across realistically in his character. The commitment he shows is evident in Paul's increasing unstable persona, which forces you to genuinely root for him in his bid to escape. 

Buried is a highly riveting watch proving that big budgets and extravagant set pieces aren't always needed to produce a tense, thrilling and very well constructed film. Not half as effective during a repeat watch, it's important, no, imperative when renting for that first time that the lights are out, volume cranked up and I guarantee Buried will please. Cortés's film is a true gem that, unfortunately, gets lost amongst the masses of remakes, reimaginings and big budget films out there, so don't let it slip you by.