Maura Tierney (Scotland PA) stars as Madeline Foster, a New York City Cop with a few humiliating secrets. Adrien Brody, (The Pianist) is Harry, a psychopath who has buried a women (Laila Robins, True Crime) alive in an elaborate extortion plot. When Harry refuses to talk to anyone but Foster, these two lives are caught in a dangerous cat and mouse game, and a women's life is at stake.
For what it's worth this is a well thought out thriller here. The elements are there to create a taught and fairly compelling cat and mouse game. But as the pieces fall into place, you realize its foundation is a house of cards and in the end everything is a little forced.
I think the biggest problem is that Brody's character knows too much. He puts two and two together far faster than even the audience does. For instance, he notices cigarette burns on Foster's arm. Instantly he jumps to a conclusion, that while true, takes a leap far to big for it's own good.
Tierney's character doesn't fare much better. The screenplay by Writer/Director Richard Shepard (The Linguini Incident) is too vague about her. Creating tension that goes nowhere. She's fighting demons of course, but does she do it for Alcohol? To give into some crazy fetish? Since the movie only makes a feeble attempt to sort out her problems, it falls flat. Every explanation comes from Harry's mouth a man she's never met before and I don't think he's that bright.
But on a positive note, Tierney and Brody are excellent in their roles. Even if I didn't buy the premise, those two actors are just so damn watchable. Tierney is like the girl next door with edge, the camera loves her, and she's so good at everything I've ever seen her do. I like how her performance transcends the material. She brings it all up a notch, something that a lesser actress would struggle with. Her performance reveals a woman who is struggling, even if the struggles are a little trite and silly.
Furthermore, Brody makes a great psycho. I liked everything about his character. I love how there is never a moment that he feels cornered. He runs the show at every minute. Like Harry Houdini (in which the story makes frequent reference too), Brody's character is an escape artist, with a sarcastic edge. In a better film this kind of character could win him an Oscar. Hmm.... I wonder if they ever did Hannibal Lecter: The Early Years, if they would consider hiring Brody? He's that good here.
OXYGEN is a half realized but watchable film. It wears its flaws on its sleeve. But it also has two really great performances in it. So do I recommend you see it? If you're nit-picky like me, than you probably won't like it. If you can give a movie its due despite it's many flaws, than yes.
*** out of 5
Let's go back to Richard Shepard's movie which star Maura Tierney and Adrien Brody. Miss Tierney plays the character of a woman detective of the NYPD, married to her chief, and with a slight booze problem. On the other hand, Adrien Brody is a charming young man whose principal activity is to bury alive the women of wealthy men in order to obtain some money while the poor victims are suffocating. Well, that's a story !
And that's not the end of it ! Just imagine that Adrien Brody is also a fan of Harry Houdini, the famous magician of the beginning of the XXth century and likes to play with the nerves of the cops by escaping from the most unusual places. You also are going to appreciate the manner Richard Shepard,with subtlety, plays with one of the most common of cinematographic themes : vampires.
In short, OXYGEN is a very good surprise with excellent actors, it's a nervous little thriller with enough beef to please the most blasés movie lovers.
A commentary and the usual trailers and filmographies. Good sound but average images.
A DVD dedicated to my mother-in-law.