Sunday 9 April 2023

REVIEW: Inside (2023) Starring Willem Dafoe

Review by Jon Donnis
From Vasilis Katsoupis in his feature directorial debut comes Inside, a psychological thriller starring the always excellent Willem Dafoe in a pretty much solo role.

Nemo (Willem Dafoe), an art thief, recounts a childhood memory in which he was asked by his teacher to choose three items to save in a house fire. Instead of his family, Nemo picked his cat, an AC/DC album, and his sketchbook, but unfortunately the cat died and he never got the album back from a friend. However, he still cherishes his sketchbook and believes that "art is for keeps".

In the present day, Nemo, disguised as a handyman, he breaks into a wealthy art collector's penthouse to steal three pieces of art by Austrian painter
Egon Schiele but is unable to find one of them, a self-portrait. As he tries to leave, the security system activates and seals the apartment, leaving Nemo trapped.
His contacts abandon him, and his attempts to escape fail due to extreme temperatures, lack of food and water, and injury. He survives on timed sprinklers and witnesses the death of a trapped pigeon.

Over time, Nemo constructs a scaffold from furniture and gradually disassembles the frame around a skylight using makeshift tools. He becomes obsessed with the housekeeper, whom he calls "Jasmine" (Eliza Stuyck), and watches her through a security camera feed. Despite being outside the front door on several occasions, Jasmine doesn't hear Nemo's attempts to get her attention due to wearing earphones while vacuuming, causing Nemo to become increasingly frustrated.

This is a very claustraphobic type of film, even though Nemo is in a large Penthouse, it makes you wonder what you would do if you found yourself trapped in a seamingly unescapable, futuristic type of house. Dafoe does a great job of conveying the panic, the desperation and ultimately the descent into madness that such a situation might create. Outside of early narration by Dafoe, and a couple of dream sequences and memories, there is very little dialog in this film. Nemo is on his own, and needs to escape, but everything he tries fails.

This entire film rests on the ability of Dafoe to make the viewer believe, and I think he does a good job.

The ending is satisfying if a little predictable, but the directing by Vasilis Katsoupis needs a special mention, as this is his film, and he has done an excellent job on a limited budget getting his film out there.

The Good
Really well made film, well directed and Defoe is the perfect choice to play Nemo.

The Bad
At about 1 hour 40 minutes without credits, the film feels a little long, runtime is very important in a film, and I feel this film could have easily shaved betweem 15 to 20 minutes off the run time without affecting the story. I know I complain about run time a lot, but it really is important.

I thoroughly enjoyed Inside, I thought it was well made, well acted, and although a little long for what it was, it really did a good job in getting across the feeling of being trapped.

I score Inside a solid 8.5/10

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