“I cannot satisfy that request.”M.I.L.O.
A French sci-fi take on Buried, a scientist wakes up in a sealed cryogenic pod with no memory of how she ended up there, her only hope of rescue being calls to the outside. Although perfect for shooting during the pandemic, Oxygen had been in development for several years before. The entire film rests on Mélanie Laurent’s performance, which deftly slides between agitated and analytical, fearful and ferocious. Her primary contact is an A.I. named M.I.L.O. (Medical Inferface Liason Officer) who is monitoring her pod but refuses to allow her to leave. The pod’s futuristic design is less claustrophobic than Buried’s coffin — it actually feels more like Locke’s car, a confined modern space that is shot with attractive lighting. Oxygen is less committed to the experimental conceit than those films as, although we only hear others as disembodied voices, we frequently cut to the protagonist’s clouded memory fragments. This is purposeful, since Oxygen has a broader science fiction story to build out from within its restricted set. The result is less noteworthy an achievement, but a compelling and memorable tale nonetheless.