Oxygen (2021), released on Netflix in May 2021, is a nightmare of a film for those scared of small or tight spaces. Truthfully, that made this film a difficult one to watch and write a spoiler free review.
A woman wakes up from cryogenic sleep locked in a pod. Worst yet, she’s running out of oxygen and does not know who she is, where she is or how to fix the situation. All of this plays out in the box. She can’t sit up. She can’t open the pod. The tight fitting space, the emotions of actress Mélanie Laurent, and the AI in her pod are all we really get to see. They are also the only two sources of actual information for the first half.
This is where Oxygen succeeds as a film. The direction and acting are on point. You can feel the desperation, the fear of impending oxygen depletion, and understand how irrational the characters responses are. There is no shying away or hiding from what Liz, played by Laurent, is facing. Time is not on your side and you feel as if it’s passing faster than normal.
The second half of the film felt slower and slightly disconnected from the first half. We learn more detailed information fully fleshed out before us. Yet, the immediacy doesn’t feel quite the same as when we first meet Liz. Maybe it was a deliberate change for creative reasons. We’ll never know.
The ambiguity of the ending gave us pause. Not because it was outrageous or unfathomable… but because at that point – the emotional connection was weak. No matter which way we viewed it, any of the options felt okay. There was nothing that made us so attached that we could only see one outcome happening.
Overall, the film is a very interesting take with tremendous acting. While the film might not have pushed us to the four-star mark – it is worth an evening watch.