Movie Synopsis

Inside (2023) – film review


Directed by Vasilis Katsoupis.
Starring Willem Dafoe, Gene Bervoets, Josia Krug and Eliza Stuyck.


Nemo, a high-end art thief, is trapped in a New York City penthouse after his heist doesn’t go as planned. Trapped with nothing but priceless works of art, he must use all his cunning and invention to survive.

There’s not much about the story or the lone character of director Vasilis Katsoupi’s second feature film Insidebut there’s a lofty concept tied to lockdown parallels and the importance of art that’s written too thinly (the filmmaker is also co-writing the screenplay with Ben Hopkins), but also functions as an isolation survival thriller that elevates everyone Drops of talent and charisma squeezes out of Willem Dafoe and his expressive face (there are numerous close-ups on different parts of his body while the temperature changes drastically and affects him) as Nemo and an art thief disguised as a craftsman who breaks into a luxurious penthouse at three high-value self-portraits to loot.

Before things quickly go downhill, Nemo communicates with a distant teammate while he searches for the portraits. The first two are easy to find, while the third appears to be in an unknown location, which isn’t what they expected, which also causes an alarm to go off that disrupts the temperature system and locks Nemo in the penthouse. Granted, the setup is a stretch here, but what the filmmakers make of it matters more.

While the production design is very impressive, an absurdly rich home has been created, covered in flashy art and refrigerators singing Macarena (singing Willem Dafoe at one point, clearly taking inspiration from his rendition of the slow descent into madness that can be found in it The lighthouse) the filmmakers ensure that Nemo constantly devises new tactics to hopefully escape.

He tries everything from carving holes in walls to building makeshift ladders out of random objects in order to potentially reach a glass ceiling window he can climb through, while also showing believable desperation that the janitor vacuuming the hallways is his Screams could be heard from the soundproof front door. There are also security feeds showing what’s going on in the rest of the building, which is amusing and devastating for Nemo as he observes and gets down on the workers’ routines and life’s little pleasures as he disperses on his own.

As previously mentioned, Nemo has to deal with an insane temperature system that slowly escalates to searing heat and then freezing cold, mostly as the problem gets worse every time he tries to fix it. This adds another layer to the survival elements and allows for creative ideas to deal with these overwhelming conditions.

The only glaring frustration is the isolation because there is so little insight into why Nemo is carrying out this heist (although there seems to be a grudge due to his remarks about the paintings and his personal love of sketching and doodling). and survival occasionally become repetitive and insufficient to sustain nearly two hours of immersion time.

After spending a lot of time on the concept, even if Inside introduces new escape methods or pauses for a little background story, you get the feeling that the point has been reached and the film doesn’t have much more to offer. Once the narration gets to its superb commentary on art, which offers something to think about, it’s still unlikely to stand out more than Willem Dafoe, who collapses and loses his mind.

Inside is a reminder that Dafoe is such a gifted actor that it’s easy to invest in his characters without much depth as long as the concept is exciting and compelling.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★★★ / Movie: ★★★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]


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