Go Deep “Inside” With Willem Dafoe in Curated Look at his New Art Thief Thriller

Willem Dafoe is a national treasure, which makes his latest film Inside such a perfect vehicle for him. Dafoe plays an art thief poetically named Nemo who takes on a job filching treasures from a high-tech New York penthouse that goes disastrously wrong. In a new featurette released by Focus Features, art curator Leonardo Bigazzi walks us through the exquisite art collection depicted in the film, and explains how each work of art speaks directly to Nemo’s increasingly dire circumstances.

Yet this isn’t just a high-concept art thief caper film like, say, The Thomas Crown Affair. No, Inside owes at least part of its DNA to thrillers like David Fincher’s 2002 film Panic Room, which found Jodie Foster having to lock herself and her daughter inside the family’s titular safe space while three men intent on stealing a fortune prowl through her house. In Inside, as the title suggests, Nemo gets trapped inside the penthouse after triggering an alarm that turns the place into a super-heated fishbowl. Used to ingeniously figuring out ways to quietly separate rich people from their priceless works of art, now Nemo’s life will depend on whether or not he can find a way to steal himself out of this deathtrap. The art contained in the penthouse might be his salvation—or his ruin.

The art on display is a mixture of paintings, sculptures, and new media, Bigazzi explains. In fact, Bigazzi curated the art depicted in Inside as he might have done for an exhibit in a museum, with each piece picked specifically to heighten Nemo’s growing desperation as the heat ticks higher towards certain death, and the art itself seems to a part of the torment. Each piece, Bigazzi explains, speaks to Nemo, urging him to take certain actions at certain moments as he tries to devise a way out of the penthouse before he loses his mind and his life. The art itself becomes his guide, and making art, even though Nemo is a thief, not an artist, becomes key to his survival.

Inside comes from director Vasilis Katsoupis, from a script by Ben Hopkins, and the conceit is such that the film is essentially a one-man show. Inside will let us see how Nemo puzzles his way out of his dire situation. Or not. The trailer indicates that our high-end art thief will start to lose his mind while trapped inside this sweltering, multi-million-dollar cage, yet this new featurette suggests that maybe, just maybe, the art thief will become an escape artist and find a way to survive. How Nemo attempts to escape, what lengths he’ll go to get free, and how badly it will get before the end credits roll are all part of the excitement. Getting to see Dafoe use his considerable gifts in feverish genre film is worth the price of admission alone.

Check out the trailer below. Inside arrives in theaters on March 17, 2023.

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Featured image: Willem Dafoe stars as Nemo in director Vasilis Katsoupis’ INSIDE, a Focus Features release. Credit: Wolfgang Ennenbach / Focus Features


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