The first ten minutes of Buoy is tough to sit through. It's a shot of water that sloooooooooowly pans back into the interior of a nice house. Inside the house, a woman is having a phone conversation with her brother. You get that they don't see each other often at all. He barely knows her kids, he seems disinterested in her life. She wants him to visit. He really doesn't want to. It all sounds like an interesting set-up for a movie.
But you quickly realize that there is no movie there. Or at least, there is no movie outside the phone call. It's an hour-plus phone conversation between siblings, with the camera following the woman around the house as she does laundry, some light gardening, and other household chores. We can hear the brother's voice, but we're forced to imagine the stories he tells his sister about amazing rock shows he's seen and shipwrecks he's barely escaped from as she goes about her mundane daily work. The movie is practically one-half radio show.
But this is a movie that builds into something huge. As the conversation continues, we start to see that the siblings have complicated motivations that shift with each passing second. They get bored with the conversation, then are suddenly drawn back in again. They talk about changing their lives, but they don't really mean it. They behave like people. This isn't a movie for people with short attention spans, but it is a movie for those who like to piece together the lives of total strangers by eavesdropping on their cell phone conversations. It's practically a novel in the way it slowly unfolds, and the journey is easily worth the early aggravation.