Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mélanie Laurent, Malik Zidi, Laura Boujenah, Eric Herson-Macarel, Anie Balestra, Marc Saez, Cathy Cerda, Lyah Valade, Mathieu Amalric
Written by: Christie LeBlanc
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 100
Date: 05/12/2021

Oxygen (2021)

3 Stars (out of 4)

As I Live and Breathe

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A woman (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) wakes up in a kind of cryogenic chamber, body covered with some kind of mesh, and connected to various tubes and wires. Due to some malfunction, her air is running out. It's at 35% and dropping. An unhelpful computer named M.I.L.O. (voiced by Mathieu Amalric) pipes up and refuses to open the door for her, unless she has override codes. It's a sci-fi Buried, and even though I had part of it figured out, it still had some surprises in store. French-born genre director Alexandre Aja's filmography has been terribly uneven, but his previous film, Crawl, was my favorite so far. Oxygen, too, features an intrepid female hero in cramped quarters, fighting like crazy to stay alive. Maybe this is his forte. He finds all the right angles and keeps up a tense, dizzying rhythm. If only the ending could have been either a little more ambiguous or concrete; it's so in-between that it has been bothering me.

Not to be confused with Richard Shepard's excellent 1999 film of the same title. (Note: this is a Netflix original, and the service is defaulted to play the film in English. I'd recommend switching to its original French and putting the subtitles on.)

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