Starring: Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi
Director: Alexandre Aja
Running Time: 101 mins
Oxygen (Oxygène) is a French film about a woman who awakes inside a cryogenic sleep chamber unaware of where and who she is. With her oxygen supply running low, she must find out the truth before time is too late.
I liked this film. It’s not the world’s best survival thriller by any means, but it does a really good job of telling a dynamic and engrossing story with a contained setting and a high concept.
With a really strong lead performance from Mélanie Laurent, Oxygen turns out to be a really great puzzle movie, as you work with Laurent lying in her cryochamber desperately attempting to uncover the truth of her situation before time runs out.
It’s kind of playing a video game, where each little clue leads you to one clue after another, all serving as mini checkpoints through the movie on the road to Laurent discovering what’s really going on.
As a result, the film’s structure, with little achievements along the way, makes it a very palatable watch for what could have been a rather pretentious high-concept thriller. It’s sharp, relatively fast-paced, and has more than enough puzzles for you to solve before you get bored.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat in the same way as films like Buried made me, but then again, I wasn’t struggling to keep interested like sci-fi survival dramas Passengers and Moon.
For what it’s worth, the revelations that come up in Oxygen are never really as shocking or thought-provoking as the movie thinks, and there are times when it’s a little too quick to reveal details that could have been left right to the finish.
As a result, while it’s without doubt a thoroughly engaging watch, Oxygen is not a masterful thriller, more a cleverly-plotted puzzle game with some gorgeous visual effects and an excellent lead performance. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.