Oxygen Review

A terrific Melanie Laurent carries this crackling survival thriller

Rony Patra -

Oxygen Review
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What is the story about?

Stuck in a cryogenic pod, a woman battles dwindling oxygen levels to piece together her own identity, with the help of an AI assistant and flashes of memory.


French horror auteur Alexandre Aja loves mining his scares and shocks in narratives tied to a single location, and here he takes it to another extreme, confining his lead character Liz in something vaguely shaped like a coffin, with electrodes, needles and an AI assistant for company. The masterstroke in this screenplay is that Liz Is also someone who is unable to remember who she is, so she has to rely on fragments of her memory, that come back as flashes from time to time. There are obvious limitations with such an idea, and its novelty can also tire you once you get used to the camera angles not moving around as much, a la Buried. Yet Aja’s film seems to be speaking to our worst fears of the moment—that of being left all alone in a box with dwindling oxygen levels for company—and it is precisely this triggering fear that also drives the story at a brisk pace. This is a solid little gem.


This is, in all fairness, a one-character show, and Melanie Laurent nails it. Her impressive filmography is testament to the fact that she can pull off practically any role, and here too, she is impressive as Liz. Laurent has a very expressive face that quickly switches between horror, despair and resolve, and this makes her performance stand out. Mathieu Amalric provides his voice to the helpful yet inanimate AI assistant, M.I.L.O.. Malik Zidi is alright as Leo.

Music & Other Departments

Considering most of the movie has a claustrophobic feel and takes place in something resembling a coffin, Jean Rabasse’s production design, Maxime Alexandre’s cinematography and Stephane Roche’s editing do a lot of work in establishing the terrifying ordeal Liz is stuck in.


The production design and Laurent’s performance are among the highlights here, with plenty of thrilling moments.


Considering the crisis surrounding oxygen cylinders in India, a film like this might act as a trigger for certain sections of the audience.

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