Published Jul 24, 2008As a film that is humble in its aspirations, yet consistently engaging despite an air of predictability, Just Buried succeeds enough to warrant some lukewarm, but mostly positive, attention. For a dark comedy it hits the right notes but is neither dark nor comic enough to completely succeed in either category. Its the kind of movie that effectuates light chuckles and an occasional raised eyebrow and should remind some Canuck viewers of the similarly stylised and thematically analogous Top of the Food Chain.
After Oliver (Jay Baruchel), a chronically nervous and socially awkward slacker, inherits his fathers funeral home, he quickly learns from the handyman (Graham Greene) that a lack of dead bodies equates a lack of money. While drunk driving following a night of drinking with the peculiar and morbid embalmer, Roberta (Rose Byrne), Oliver accidentally strikes and kills a Swiss/German hiker.
The resulting influx of cash stemming from the funeral, in addition to a curious potential witness, leave the pair to take the success of the funeral home into their own hands.
Mixing morality and survivalist killings to progress the plot forward, Just Buried is a didactical hybrid of the questions and issues raised in both Heathers and The Last Supper. It explores the struggle between guilt and power after an ethical line has been crossed and how quickly ideologies can be modified when coping with perceived self-preservation.
This analysis is only partially successful, as the character of Oliver doesnt progress in an entirely believable manner, stemming from both a stark screenplay and a twitchy, unreflective performance from Baruchel. Rose Byrne, on the other hand, is a treat to watch, giving a great deal of intrigue to Roberta in her often-stoic reactions and line delivery. To be fair, this is not only because of her natural abilities but also the fact that her character is by far the most interesting one on screen, with all of the best dialogue.
Had the outcome not been quite so predictable, more thrills and excitement could have been derived from a fairly well staged and appropriately grim finale, which in truth could be said about a great deal of the film on the whole. Its good but not great. (Seville)