Monday, 21 February 2011

Buried (2010) - the second best 'man stuck in one place' film of the year

Viewing context:
The classic, got it off some bloke from work routine. There were two reasons for wanting to watch it. One, that I had just seen Hurt Locker and had been underwhelmed at its commentary on America's involvement in post invasion Iraq; I knew that Buried had something to do with Iraq and hoped it would succeed more competently. Also, I had 127 Hours lined up to watch that week and wanted to see how the two films compared in their ‘one guy stuck in one place’ plot.

Written by Chris Sparling, who has since written a film called ATM that I will be looking out for. Directed by Rodrigo Cortes.

What Happened:
American truck driver wakes up in a coffin, buried somewhere in Iraq. He is contacted, via a phone that was buried with him, by his kidnappers and was given a fixed amount of time to organise ransom money, otherwise he will be left there.

What it did particularly well:
I am always interested by films that take a chance or do something different. They are often epic fails, but still worth it for taking a leap of faith. Well this film took a chance and executed with precision. The originality and the inventive scenarios presented are what made the film stand out, but this had to be - and was - supported with a great central performance.

What unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
There were possibly two scenes that seemed to just go on a little too long, which was my worry about the film in general going into it, but it was easily within acceptable standards. Plus, who knows, had they been shortened, the film may well have been missing the tension that it created.

American contractor (representing the American public, the everyman, not even a member of the armed forces) stuck in Iraq and paying for things that his government have chosen, and continue to choose. He cannot choose the consequences, but inevitably is the one that suffers them.
Critical of many aspects of contemporary western culture: deference of responsibility via the company he works for; putting material and trade interests above that of people; even the impersonal, ineffective and just plain depressing nature of call centres, created through the American invented principle that Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor pioneered in the 1920s: deskill employees in order make them as replaceable, uninvested, unintelligent and amoral as possible - ah the capitalist dream.

Performance of the film:
Well it would be pretty strange to give it to one of the voices on the phone, so it has to be Reynolds. I thought he did what he had to do perfectly well. He still had a little of that ‘everyguy’ feel that he had in Two Guys and a Girl; he was convincingly real in there. Not particularly calm, yet not ridiculously freaking out and dealt with the call centre conversations convincingly.

Scene of the film:
The claustrophobia was at its height when he had to turn around in the coffin. Ooh that really had me tensing up.

Final Word:
The script writing must be commended here. To inject the narrative with just the right amount of obstacles at just the right intervals was essential in a narrative like this. Tense film with great allegorical commentary on America's involvement with post invasion Iraq.

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