‘Oxygen’ explores ‘ethical, social, and spiritual values that make life human’
John P. Ferré is a Professor of Communication and Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville. He served on the Ecumenical Jury at this year’s Montreal World Film Festival. A member of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, he wrote for the Presbyterian News Service:
The movie that excited the jury most was Oxygen, the debut feature film by 29-year-old Belgian director Hans Van Nuffel. It tells the story of two young men with cystic fibrosis whose health deteriorates until they are hospitalized hoping for a lung transplant. Xavier, the older of the two, has lived the life of an athlete, scuba diving, racing cars, and running. His next-door neighbor in the Belgian hospital is Tom, who finds his excitement outside the law, first stealing drugs, then manufacturing methamphetamine.
As their hospital stays become longer, Xavier and Tom become friends, each challenging the other’s life choices. The film ends powerfully, but unsentimentally, asking viewers by implication how they would choose to live their lives if they had a terminal condition — which, of course, is what all of us must do
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