Spoilers will hold their breath.
This movie works best the less you know about it, but the challenge here is to make sure it reaches its audience without exactly telling them what sort of film it is. I am not sure if this film finally vindicates the slow burn thriller for me. There are some futuristic elements but it starts as more of a psychological thriller. Now, this will be claustrophobic, which usually I stay away from as well as have some scary moments that are tame by today’s standards, but otherwise the entire film takes place inside a pod.
Oxygen (2021) was directed by Alexandre Aja and written by Christie LeBlanc. A woman (Mélanie Laurent) wakes up inside a medical pod. She does not remember who she is or how she got there. Her only source of information is the artificial intelligence M.I.L.O. which administers the pod but denies her the option to open it without an administrator code. She is the only live person we see during the film, aside from other characters we see on images, memories and visions. Time is on short supply as something has gone wrong with the pod and she is losing air.
This is not a new premise but it’s a fresh execution. You have a character that finds herself in an unknown location, has lost her memory and has limited access to information or the information she receives is biased. Restrained from leaving, she – and by extension us, the audience – have to piece this puzzle together before she runs out of time. This has been done before in several ways but the execution is key and I believe this one is done amazingly.
The movie rests on Mélanie Laurent’s shoulders and her performance is incredible. The film is in French with subtitles, but that doesn’t take anything away from the movie. You empathize with the character’s plight all throughout. The filmography is more than adequate and the production is top notch. This a very accessible film, although some moments might be considered a bit strong or simply not adequate for sensible viewers. For moviegoers looking for thrills or actual horror this will be tame.
Highly recommended for audiences looking for a minimalistic and psychological thriller with sci-fi elements. Although I find it highly accessible, casual audiences might be looking for something with more action and/or horror and this one is neither. Although it is claustrophobic in its location, it manages to expand its perception of the universe of its main character as well as provide insight into her personality. As for its outcome, I found it emotionally satisfying. Very much worth your time if you’re willing to let it draw you in.
That will do for now.