Film Review: Oxygen

Film Review of Oxygen starring Mélanie Laurent

DIRECTED BY

Alexandre Aja

STARRING

Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric and Malik Zidi

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SYNOPSIS

A woman who wakes in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there, must find a way out before running out of air.

The film tells the story of a young woman, who wakes up in a cryogenic pod. She doesn’t remember who she is or how she ended up there. As she’s running out of oxygen, she must rebuild her memory to find a way out of her nightmare.

Film Review of Oxygen directed by Alexandre Aja

Oxygen is a French sci-fi survival thriller written by Christie LeBlanc and directed by Alexandre Aja. The film focuses on Liz, who wakes up inside a cryogenic medical unit with no idea as to who she she or why she was put in it. Aided by M.I.L.O, a Medical Interface Liaison Operator, Liz most rebuild her memory to learn of her identity, reason for being in the unit and find a way out of her predicament before the oxygen level within the chamber runs out.

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It will be fair that assume that when Oxygen is released later in the week it will be compared to Rodrigo Cortés’s 2010 claustrophobic thriller Buried, where both films focus on one character being trapped in a confined space and having one item that plays a pivot part in providing them a source of hope for their survival. In Buried it was a mobile phone and here in Oxygen it’s an operating system known as M.I.L.O. Aja’s direction and the way the shots are framed immediately make you feel claustrophobic the moment Liz wakes up in the cryogenic chamber, placing the audience right in the position of the character and the film never really lost that sense of dread and suspense for me, especially when the Oxygen level’s deplete further as the film progresses, Liz’s mental state deteriorates as she begins to envision some things being in the pod with her. With the restricted space that they have to work within, I thought the crew behind the camera done really solid work. I particularly liked the visual effects department designed the M.I.L.O interface as well as Jean Rabasse’s production design, how Stéphane Roche edited the film, particularly in showcasing Liz’s confusion, and I really liked Maxime Alexandre’s cinematography, especially in the wide shot where we get to how little space Liz has within the cryogenic pod.

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However the film can only work as well as its lead, as we focus on one character throughout the films one hour and forty minute runtime, and of course Mélanie Laurent gives a committed and active performance as Liz, from her initial hysteria to waking up unknown of who or why she is in the cryogenic pod, to being disoriented as she loses track of time has gone as oxygen levels rapidly decrease. In terms of the narrative that the film has, which unfortunately I’m not allowed to go into detail, I actually rather enjoyed the plot and found myself immersed in the storyline and the journey go along with Liz trying to decipher how she ended up in the cryogenic pod. I watched this film in it’s original settings, French language with english subtitles, so letting you know if watching through foreign-language with english subtitles isn’t your thing, there’s an English-dubbed version available for when this film drops later this week on Netflix.

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VERDICT

Oxygen is an engaging survival thriller with solid direction from Alexandre Aja, with the story elevated by a committed performance by Mélanie Laurent.

★★★½

OXYGEN WILL BECOME AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX ON WEDNESDAY 12TH MAY.