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Little known Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés graces cinema screens with his brilliantly original second feature Buried. At the centre of the narrative is Iraq-based American truck driver Paul Conroy who awakens to find he’s been buried alive in a wooden coffin with only a few items to help him escape before the oxygen runs out.
The full ninety four minutes are spent sharing a coffin with Paul as he attempts to adapt to the situation he finds himself in. Because of this, it’s essential that the character is believable, convincingly performed and most importantly easy to empathise with. Therefore, it’s a rather brave decision to cast Ryan Reynolds, whose previous filmography had suffered from many poor performances. Thankfully his sporadic career is forgotten and his performance as the typical every-man who faces a terrifying fate is fantastic. So much so that to even say it was Oscar-worthy only scratches the surface.
At first it seems that such a small, cramped single location would limit the opportunities for cinematography. However, cinematographer Eduard Grau offers a brilliant variety of angles and photography techniques. The juxtaposition from tightly, framed extreme close ups to dramatic long shots reinforce the claustrophobic aura that surrounds the film.
Not only are the camera angles used effectively, but such a dark film lends itself to impressive use of lighting. Buried begins in complete darkness, but as the narrative develops the character is illuminated from a wide range of colours, from the fiery orange flicker of a lighter, the glowsticks alien green glow and the Blackberry’s vivid blue screen.
The combination of Cortés excellent direction, Chris Sparling’s marvellous script, Grau’s artistic vision and Ryan Reynolds finest performance to date culminates in a film that is one of the most memorable from 2010.