Friday, April 07, 2023

Inside (2023)

A movie, in which a man is almost obliged to treat another man's valuables (so very valuable...) as things of no value, a situation we may have come across before in numerous post-apocalyptic treatments, but here instead we have an art thief, a character called Nemo with a real sense of the lasting value of art, trapped inside a sort of high rise personal museum and thus subjected to an individual end of the world outcome.


We were both absolutely riveted from beginning to end, yet afterwards when I sought out some corroboration on the interwebs instead came across a slew of fairly sniffy reviews. 

Undeterred, I reflected that much of this reminded me of sections of the critical response to Triangle of Sadness. I am not sure if this is an American thing or a Millennial thing, but there appears to be a novel orthodoxy out there which requires any story straying into social critique to come sparkling clean about where it stands on ‘rich people’ or controversial cultural issues in general. Ambiguity is fully cancel-able.

The complaint is framed as an exciting premise that the writer and/or director somehow under-exploited. For sure, various directions in which this particular situation might have progressed are explicitly teased, yet ultimately left implicit. What's wrong with that? 

Also, if you observe the art in the background, much of it has this same hard-to-pin-down quality, and one must always remember that the now notorious metropolitan elite which creates the value here, however opposed to the status quo and pro social justice they might be, have never had any desire to see their sophisticated world sacked and burned by barbarians. So the digs at Ruben Östlund's insider-satire leave me thoroughly undaunted. 

I think I may have been recently guilty myself of wanting another visually stunning yet ultimately indefinite movie — Infinity Pool  — to be the film I might have made myself given the basic idea scribbled on a napkin. That's just silly.*

Anyway, Inside is a firm recommendation, a rare one-hander that finds interesting and not too absurd ways to overcome the limitations established by the single character in constrained circumstances conceit. And Willem Dafoe has become the embodiment of must-see-cinema in the US.


* We might however have preferred that just as Nemo had an electronic window on the outside world, that the outside world had a way of looking in on him. That said, not showing what he could observe with the telescope was a masterstroke.




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