Big up for Rodriguo Cortes, who laid us a movie that will automatically make you at least a little claustrophobic. During one hour and a half, you are, just like Paul Conroy, partly struggling against lack of oxygen and confinement, partly stressed and nervously moving.
The story quickly reminded me of an article, written by Robert Fisk, a war correspondent for the Independent in 2001, and recalling his experience in Afghanistan. He had been beaten by Afghan refugees after presenting himself as inoffensive, and this similarities, proved that every war has the same impacts.
We are in 2006, in the middle of the Iraq war and Ryan Reynolds is performing the main and only physical character of the movie. He is an american truck driver, working for a private contractor, who went to distribute supplies in Iraq. We learn that he was attacked, with other people by a bunch of “terrorists”, and have been captive since, in a box, buried under the ground. He was left with a lighter, a pen, alcohol, a knife and a cellphone. Indeed, this last element is meant to enable the kidnappers to ask for a ransom.
And the fact that Cortes, doesn’t use any flashbacks or show us the external world, make this movie more powerful, and also darker in a way, because Paul is showed as totally alone in this, helpless, and dependent on this invisible upper world, that he desperately tries to reach and ask for its rescue.
There is something horrifying about being buried alive, and that’s why we’re constantly afraid of what could happened next as if we were Paul Conroy; the sand could come through the wood, we could consume all the oxygen available, and as a scene suggested it, who tells me, a freaking snake couldn’t come and bite me? It isn’t the same, as being trapped in a cage where the principal fear is death by starvation, here, food isn’t our major problem. It could even be our last.
However, if we are suffocating sometimes, and if the movie makes us feel claustrophobic, Rodriguo Cortes, makes sure that there’s plenty of action and different camera angles (some that are even showing Paul’s despair) to keep us entertained, and not constantly feeling oppressed by the situation. Suspense is floating around us, or, in a nicer image, we are the ones floating in a bubble full of suspense.
Paul seeks for help, from his wife, 911, the FBI… However, everyone is either not answering, or putting him on hold, either asking him futile questions, and non-appropriate to the situation. Frustration and anger as well as the loss of hope are emotions and feelings we are experiencing as one entity with Paul, during the whole movie.
But something very malicious, and that seems too real to be bearable, is how Cortes is manipulating the hero’s hope and ours. A dangerous game we are falling into. Until now, I feel something stuck into my throat that prevent me from speaking or crying about this. That’s what I admired in Buried, I admired those numerous possibilities offered, with so little at the beginning.
So, what’s the movie really about? It could be a war denunciation. Or the denunciation of the American government. But I would go for something more precise, I would say, the movie, is clearly painting the awful portrait of the individualist American society. The ideal of the self-made man is here destroyed.
While Paul was struggling for his life, the contractor he worked for, called him to say the contract was over before he was kidnapped, because of a specific reason, and that they couldn’t do anything and would take any responsibilities if anything happened to him, 911 said they couldn’t do anything, and the FBI, implied that there were nothing to do in his situation. You are on your own, and the rule is: “Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Only the Hostage Working Group would try to do something, however, we are bursting into anger and screaming “injustice”. The external world appears as selfish, cruel, with no empathy; dehumanized. We reached a stage one wonders: “is it really worthing it, getting out of this box?”.
The best example to show this critic of the American society, and the whole fake ideal it appears to be, is the fact that Paul kept repeating he was an american citizen, calling for patriotism, as if his nationality could give him a sort of immunity. And the worst of it, is that even the iraqi kidnappers, think the same. They had this strong conviction that the American government would do anything for its citizens. The saddest truth is that it wouldn’t.
Rodriguo Cortes destroys and denounces, every point mentioned in the movie by a detailed and rough mise en scène. Buried is a psychological survival thriller that slowly interferes with your body, and that deserves to be seen.