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INSIDE (2023, USA) – 6.5/10

Willem Dafoe has a one-man show in the psychological drama – a thriller about an art thief who, while doing a job, gets trapped in a smart, high-tech rich man’s house in New York. Nema (Dafoe) already in the opening scene we see how he broke into the penthouse of a New York rich man and his goal is three paintings by Egon Schiele. However, Nemo’s helper, the hacker with whom he is on a walkie-talkie connection, will soon stop calling after the security system is reset, and the burglar remains imprisoned in that carefully and designerly decorated, luxurious apartment with a swimming pool.

Unfortunately, “Inside” will turn very quickly into a somewhat tiresome survivalist drama – a thriller, although, it must be admitted, I have not seen this kind of survivalism before. Although the apartment, as we have already established, is luxurious, the owner turned off the water after leaving, the air conditioning broke down, so it was incredibly hot for a while, and later it became icy like in a refrigerator. There is only a little food in the smart fridge, which starts playing the Macarena as soon as it is opened for more than twenty seconds, so Nemo will need dog food to survive. Although Nemo is an experienced and certainly capable burglar, all attempts to get out of the apartment where he is imprisoned will turn into failure after failure, since the penthouse is clearly designed as a fortress from which one cannot just get in or out.

As time will pass, Nemo will also deteriorate more and more mentally. Reality, fantasy and dreams will begin to mix here with occasional flashbacks. So although Dafoe is undoubtedly the perfect choice for the role of a mentally tortured guy who will be stuck like that, the debut film of the Greek director Vasilis Katsoupis remained somewhat sketchy, at times tiring and, worst of all, empty. I guess it’s not very easy to arrange a 105-minute film in which we practically only have one character to be something particularly dynamic, but too much here is left enigmatic, completely open to me.

It’s as if Katsoupis and the British Ben Hopkins, who wrote the screenplay based on Greco’s idea, invested all their money on Dafoe himself. Let’s throw old Willem into one such luxury apartment and film him trying to escape from the inside, eating dog food, jumping into the pool from which he drained the water, and we have a movie. I also lacked intensity, all the more so because we have already had the opportunity to watch Dafoe sink into madness countless times, so the film premiered in the Panorama section of the Berlin festival did not offer anything new. The production design and direction in “Inside” are, along with the acting, clearly up to the task, but perhaps not so much the ideas, but the actual realization of the story or the script is the biggest problem here.