Oxygen Review: Starring Mélanie Laurent The Film Is Not Quite A French Force To Reckon With

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This one is hot property on Netflix. Maybe because we like high-tension dramas at the moment. Don’t ask me why! As if there isn’t enough of it in our lives. Why can’t we just enjoy light-hearted rom-coms? Why do we get a kick out of watching people suffer on screen? There is just one character in Oxygen, and that too a horizontal woman lying helpless and unable to move in a cryogenic chamber. How did she get there? Who put her there? Would she be able to get out before oxygen runs out on her (it’s running out on a lot of people in the world, how’s that for a spot of Covid validity?)?


For the next 100 minutes we are taken into Elizabeth Hansen (Mélanie Laurent)’s tense mind space as she negotiates for her life with a computer named MILO (voice of Mathieu Amalric) installed to keep her company. MILO is a cinematic device implemented to give Elizabeth chance to voice her inner apprehensions anxieties and tensions as the oxygen level in her chamber reaches a dead end.


There are some flashbacks to Elizabeth’s past where we see her in happier times(and space) with her husband(Malik Zidi)who she is told, is a figment of her rapidly deteriorating imagination, I must say the script accommodates the exigencies of a one-character one-chamber situation in a story well told. There is never a slack moment in the storytelling. Much of the credit for the unflagging suspense goes to the lead actress. Mélanie Laurent’s Woman On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown act is urgently pitched. We feel Elizabeth’s growing anxieties as time runs out on her.


The other hero in this strange survival saga is the cinematography. Requiring his frames to static, cinematographer Maxime Alexandre nonetheless manages to manoeuvre the tension in the chamber. He holds the camera close to Lauren’s tense clenched face capturing it at times like a ball of fire about to explode. Lauren’s mounting tension is palpable right through.


But the film still not interesting enough to keep us enthralled for its entire length. The flashbacks showing Elizabeth’s happy past, come in as a relief. Some of Lauren’s exchanges with the computer are amusing for how she tries to get the better of him, making him do things to ease her pressure that he is not supposed to. Oxygen is all about exhaling when air is in short supply. I sometimes felt the film itself lacked breathing space. Too anxious to not lose our interest, Oxygen presses the point too hard, making Elizabeth’s plight a claustrophobic experience for those watching her grief grow.


Directed by Alexandre Aja, Oxygen gets 2 and a half stars!







Image source: youtube/Netflix,ybfilmstrailer


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