Film Review: Inside
Director: Vasilis Katsoupis
In Theaters: 3.17
Don’t confuse Inside with Bo Burnham’s Netflix comedy special of the same name. There’s nothing amusing—or insightful—about Willem Dafoe’s isolation in a lavish penthouse apartment filled with expensive pieces of art that he’s there to steal. Despite this encapsulation in a cage of art, Inside and its director Vasilis Katsoupis don’t offer any insightful commentary about the relation between art, humanity and art’s true value in this 105-minute slog of survival.
Dafoe plays art thief Nemo (named in the credits only) who gets trapped in a wealthy art collector’s penthouse after the security system proves too strong for his handler. This leaves Nemo to fend for himself in a poorly stocked home with no running water and virtually empty fridges and pantries. As the days turn to weeks, Nemo attempts various methods of escape, from chiseling the ornate, wooden front door to building a tower with the furniture and art to reach a skylight, all while trying to balance the psychological effects of being trapped with only his thoughts and the art he tried to steal.
Isolation films require the protagonists to think outside the box, and Nemo does make some inspired choices. He’s hindered by a subpar script that forces him into illogical moves, particularly regarding his use of fire toward the end. It’s one of several choices that challenge credulity.
The script also lacks any real development for Nemo, so I left without any reason to actually care whether or not Nemo makes it out alive. My main interest was in finding out whether Nemo would make it out alive or succumb to his prison, and afterwards I felt disappointed by what I just watched from simply thinking about the choices Nemo and Katsoupis make. Even with a lackluster script, Dafoe unsurprisingly shines in his solitary confinement. He never backs down from a challenge, and he gives everything he’s got and then some to make the movie worth watching, whether he’s slurping water out of the garden sprinklers or creating art projects that reflect his state of mind after being alone for weeks on end.
Inside doesn’t hold a candle to better isolation movies such as Cast Away or The Martian in any aspect except in that the lead character gives an impressive performance. You’d be better off being stuck in your own apartment than going outside for Inside. –Eric Ray Christensen
Read more reviews of Willem Dafoe films:
Film Review: The Lighthouse
Film Review: The Card Counter
Always FREE, thanks to READERS LIKE YOU!
Donate $10 OR MORE to get a SLUG sticker pack!