An art thief becomes trapped in a New York penthouse after his heist goes awry. Imprisoned with nothing but priceless works of art, he must use all his cunning and invention to survive.
“Inside” is a film that the more I think about, the more I like. It most certainly is a test of endurance, patience, and stamina, but director Vasilis Katsoupis‘ visual style paired with strong existential theming and a commanding performance from Willem Dafoe make this one of the more interesting (and challenging) films of the year. Art thief Nemo (Dafoe) is tasked with stealing five valuable paintings from a luxury New York penthouse, and the heist doesn’t go as planned. Just minutes into the job, the home’s high-tech security system malfunctions, trapping Nemo inside. Abandoned by his accomplice on the outside, Nemo is on his own and must figure out a way to escape. With no one home or even aware of his whereabouts, Nemo watches as the hours turn to days and eventually, to months. He must find a way to survive in his opulent surroundings before time runs out. It’s a thought-provoking idea for a film, especially when the value of art and luxury is at odds with human needs and survival. Nemo is surrounded by riches, but is forced to revert to his most primal instincts. There’s wealth at every turn, from the smart home devices to priceless works of art, yet there is very little that he needs for basic survival (the water has been shut off, and there’s not much food in the pantry). Co-screenwriters Ben Hopkins and Katsoupis add an interesting dimension to their story by offering a simple reflection on what’s really important: art or your life? The singular setting gives a real sense of claustrophobia disquieting anxiety, especially as Nemo can see the outside world, yet nobody can see him. Via the closed-circuit tvs that the owner used for security, Nemo watches the doorman and cleaning staff for entertainment. He eventually begins to fantasize and make up stories about them just to retain his own sanity. It’s voyeuristic entertainment, but also a sad thought that this trapped (and slowly dying) man is forced to watch as the rest of the world goes on living. There’s very little story or plot and the film feels dragged out. It gets tougher to watch as it goes on, and it would be more accessible if it lost a half hour or so of run time. Thankfully, Dafoe’s performance is so intense that you just can’t take your eyes off him. This is an emotionally and physically demanding role (and one with very little dialogue), and Dafoe is up to the challenge. He’s a legendary talent, especially when a lot is asked of him. He embodies the desperation of his character, especially when he begins to hallucinate and descend into madness. I can’t imagine anyone better suited for the role of Nemo than Defoe. “Inside” is what I like to call a “film festival movie,” a project that seems far too full of itself, is overly long and tedious, and is packed with irritating, overt symbolism. There’s a lot that will turn off many viewers, but those who enjoy a challenge in their art will find much to appreciate. In other words, you have to either be in the target audience or in the right mood for something like this. **By: Louisa Moore / SCREEN ZEALOTS / www.ScreenZealots.com**
Dafoe is as outstanding as ever, commanding every scene with an unbelievably desperate and overwhelmingly engrossing performance, _Inside_ is overall held back by its predictable outcome and dreadfully slow pacing – which, sadly, no amount of Dafoe dancing to the Macarena of having a full-on conversation with a pigeon helps to alleviate. **Full review:** https://boundingintocomics.com/2023/03/24/inside-review-stuck-in-artistic-purgatory-with-willem-dafoe/