Nothing is more anxiety-provoking than being locked up fending for survival. In Inside there is a tone of discomfort in its harrowing premise. Inside is Vasilis Katsoupis’ second project as a director. This film involves a problematic situation where the anxiety goes to the core of its main character. Inside is Castaway (2000) taking place in a New York penthouse. One error led to someone being completely locked up. Inside brings all kinds of frustrations while focusing on survival and escaping confinement. There is no easy way to define this movie experience because audiences will take away different emotions once they see Inside for themselves.
In Inside the focus is on an art thief, Nemo (played by Willem Dafoe). He makes his way to a high-end New York penthouse to steal expensive works of art. His heist runs into trouble when alarms are triggered which seal off the whole penthouse. With the owner never there and all contacts lost once the place is sealed off, Nemo finds himself trapped. With the precious works of art surrounding him, he must figure out if he can escape or survive in the penthouse. As he realizes that it’s impossible to escape, he decides he should start making the penthouse feel like a home until he can figure out how to get out. Can he maintain his patience? What legal trouble could he face if he escapes?
Inside filled me with repulsive feelings as Nemo engages in activities he did not plan for. The penthouse has a lack of resources. There is no running water, messed up air conditioning, and barely any food. Nemo does find a way to make his resources manageable, but his bizarre mindset grows under shocking tensions. Inside caused me to feel scared due to Dafoe’s brilliant performance as someone stuck in confinement.
The features in the penthouse also contribute to Nemo losing his mind. For example, the refrigerator plays music when it is open for too long which makes Nemo even more angry. The other big anger factor for Nemo is the fact that there is a camera system through the plasma screen TV of the penthouse. He can see that there are others working and coming in and out of the building. Sadly, they cannot recognize that there is anything wrong with the penthouse that Nemo is trapped in because it is soundproof, and the main owner is never there. The film’s audience knows who the owner is, through pictures and information, but they never see him on screen.
Do not expect conversations or a whole lot of dialogue during Inside. Expect a whole lot disastrous thinking from the mind of Nemo caused by his continued frustration with finding a way out from a mission that went awry and caused him to be trapped in the penthouse. There is only so much Nemo can do to prevent himself from going completely insane in his unprecedented situation.
There are moments when Nemo narrates. Dafoe’s performance in this role slurs and goes down dark alleys. He shares a story in his narration about when he was young and was asked what items would have most meaning to him that he would save in a fire. The correlation to his narration and the situation he finds himself in is that there is no value when something valuable is destroyed. Instead of Nemo hoping to escape and make a profit from the art pieces he stole, he now finds himself in locked-up solitude creating his own art.
In the film, Nemo says, “There’s no creation without destruction!” In Inside there is a lot of creation and destruction. Unfortunately, it is a lot harder than Nemo or the audience anticipates because there is no simple answer to get him out of confinement. From my perspective, this film is an experimental thriller that keeps its audience thinking. Three stars.