Synopsis by Mark Deming
A police detective is on the trail of a psychopath while dealing with demons of her own in the crime thriller Oxygen. Madeline Foster (Maura Tierney) is a plainclothes detective with the NYPD who isn't especially happy with her job. She drowns her sorrows in alcohol and masochistic sex, though even her husband (Terry Kinney) is unaware of the full extent of her erotic obsessions. Madeline finds herself assigned to investigate an unusual kidnapping; Frances (Laila Robins), the wife of a prosperous businessman (James Naughton), has been kidnapped and buried alive. The perpetrators demand the ransom be paid within 24 hours, or the air will run out and Frances will be dead. Madeline surmises that the kidnapper is a career criminal known to the NYPD as "Harry Houdini" (Adrien Brody) for his remarkable ability to escape capture. It soon becomes clear that "Harry" knows who Madeline is, and for him this isn't an ordinary kidnapping but an elaborate psychological game; he is convinced they are alike in more ways than they're different, which makes it all the more fascinating for him. Oxygen received screenings at several 1999 film festivals, including Taos, Gen-Art and Cannes (market); it was later purchased by premium cable network HBO, who showed the film before it went into a limited theatrical run.
buried-alive, investigation, kidnapping, police-detective, psychopath