For the most part, I think many actors are obsessed with just doing normal things in movies anybody will do with no dialogue. For True Confessions, Robert DeNiro wanted a scene of him just doing stuff without any dialogue. In All is Lost, Robert Redford’s dialogue could’ve been written on a index card. During the island scenes in Cast Away, Tom Hanks hardly speaks. In The Revenant, people criticized Leonard DiCaprio’s performance because he didn’t talk much.
Not every movie has to have rapid fire snappy dialogue by David Mamet or Quentin Tarantino. Inside is a unique movie that probably looked good on paper and I’m sure the script was short with the director Vasilis Katsoupis and actor Willem Dafoe just going over the scenes before they filmed them with Dafoe ad-libbing a lot. Maybe some of the long passages were written by Ben Hopkins who gets a screenwriting credit.
But for a movie that is 105 minutes with credits, I’m sure the script wasn’t even 50 pages. Unfortunately, the movie would’ve benefitted from that same brevity. This is easily an 80 minute movie that’s been stretched too long and becomes repetitive. Dafoe plays Nemo, an art thief disguised as a handyman who breaks into a New York City highrise penthouse to steal art work by Egon Schiele. Yet, things go wrong as the security system seals him in when he attempts to leave. His partner (only heard through a radio) abandons him.
Locked in the penthouse, he soon discovers that there’s little food and no running water. A digital thermostat malfunctions gradually increasing the temperatures to outrageously high heat. There’s an indoor pool to help cool off. Thankfully there’s an automated system to water the planets as Nemo uses this to collect water to drink but there’s no way he can cook much.
He passes the time watching the security cameras and becoming interested in a housekeeper he calls “Jasmine” (Eliza Stuyck) who he hallucinates is in the penthouse at one time. He also hallucinates that the owner (Gene Bervoets) is there. But he works on trying to get out through a skylight by using the furniture to build a ladder that is secure.
But for the most part, it’s just Dafoe doing his usual Dafoe work. And even though he is very good and talented actor, the movie drags on much longer than it really should. You ask yourself how long would a wealthy person leave a metropolitan penthouse empty with various artworks. There’s also a few scenes that question whether or not Nemo has totally lost his mind or not. A lot of the dialogue seems improvised, especially when he pretends he’s hosting his own cooking show or singing and dancing along with the refrigerator that plays “La Macarena” when the door is opened too long.
Since we don’t know much about Nemo’s life, we really don’t know the level we should sympathize with him or how we should feel he’s getting his just desserts. I also knew more than halfway through where this movie was headed. The claustrophobia of the penthouse never does get the same feel as the island in Cast Away or the ship and lift raft in All is Lost.
The movie was filmed during the the earlier half of 2021 when Covid was still a bigger problem. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to make a connection with those who were shelter-in-place. It does give Dafoe a good opportunity to take center stage but maybe it’s because he’s taken on these types of odd roles that it feels more like old hat than as they’re trying something new.
What do you think? Please comment.