Oxygen – Review

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Similar to Devil (2010) and Buried (2010), Oxygen confines the protagonist in a narrow space. The script was written by promising debutant Christie LeBlanc, but in the directing chair sits an experienced figure: Alexandre Aja. This is not the first time Aja has handled a similar film. Finally, he created Crawl (2019) which trapped his character in the middle of a flood with a crocodile, and he also wrote a script and produced P2 (2007), about a woman trapped in an underground parking lot. Top Movie Site

But compared to the two, Oxygen clearly has a more difficult level. The setting is much narrower, i.e. a cryogenic capsule. A woman (Mélanie Laurent) awakens from hypersleep in the capsule, alone, panicking, memory loss, with only 35% oxygen remaining. The only source of information is a sophisticated AI named M.I.L.O. (voiced by Mathieu Amalric). Served almost in real time, we are treated to an attempt to save ourselves before running out of oxygen.

The less information you know, the more satisfying the film will be, so I won’t go into the plot further. But in contrast to the “one location film” examples above, Oxygen has a lot more variety, given that the setting is an advanced cryogenic capsule. Threats do not only come from depletion of oxygen, but also systems in it that run security protocols (for example, robotic injections).

Cinematography by Maxime Alexandre, which Aja has subscribed to since High Tension (2003), is also able to take advantage of various visual options as a way to remove monotony, such as panning out to take the audience out of the capsule (a technique also used in Buried), to shots. 360 degrees that increase the intensity, as well as mark the turning point of the groove. Through a twist, both the audience and the characters realize that the situation is far more dangerous than expected. Best Movie

This twist is a clever step to expand the scale, increase the choice of conflict, and also enrich the storytelling, which has previously been built through a series of flashbacks. Through flashback (which also aims to keep the monotony away), our protagonist periodically retrieves fragment after fragment of his memory, although unfortunately, some of the ways to restore the memory seem forced, only fulfilling the need for the story to continue, rather than a natural progression.

Not so with Mélanie Laurent’s acting. Nothing was forced from her superior appearance, which repeatedly jumped from anxiety, calm, then back to anxiety. We can also understand when the character makes inappropriate decisions, or is less cooperative with those who want to provide assistance. For additional information, previously this role would be given to Anne Hathaway, then moved to Noomi Rapace, before being obtained by Laurent. Rapace eventually became executive producer, while Hathaway voiced the English version.

Entering the last 25 minutes, another twist appeared, which was not like a turning point in the middle of the duration, this time it felt cheating. Referring to what the main character previously did, this twist should be impossible. But Aja, as one of the best “genre film” directors today, builds a spectacle that makes the audience forget, or even not realize the flaws of logic. The dynamics are consistent, through the presence of jump scares, several painful moments, and the intensity that is maintained. As a parade of terror and suspense, Oxygen is a complete package, because the makers clearly understand and love the genre they are making. Movie Review

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