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Considering how great this movie was in the beginning I was stunned why I had never heard of it or why it only got a rating of 6.0 on IMDb. It had to have something to do with how the story unfolded. Turns out, that this is indeed the problem. The first 45 minutes of "The I Inside" are really a blast. The story sucks you in immediately and unfolds beautifully until a certain point is reached where the writer lost control and messed up what had been set up so well. All of a sudden the story's getting way over the top, apparently for no other reason than to keep the viewer puzzled. That wouldn't have been necessary. They could have taken the story anywhere as intriguing as it started. Unfortunately, the plot becomes uneven when the "rules" of the movie are adapted arbitrarily. The final solution doesn't really come as a surprise anymore. Worse still, it's not good enough to explain everything. It's obvious that there are mistakes and flaws throughout the script and it's a shame, because, as I've said, unlike a lot of other movies where the story is already set up for an impossible, unbelievable ending, "The I Inside" had a more than promising start. Anyway, although the movie isn't completely satisfying and kind of stumbles over its own feet, it's still very entertaining to watch. It has an atmospheric stage play-like atmosphere (in fact, the story has been adapted from a play called "Point Of Death") and there are some really creative suspense scenes. Summing up, "The I Inside" isn't the masterpiece it could have been, but it's a nice way to spend 90 minutes.
A technically superb thriller about a man that after an accident loses
memory of the last two years. He struggles to remember what happened
during that time and soon finds himself switching between the past and
the present and possessing the ability to alter the future.
Heavily inspired by other more famous films dealing with memory loss and past/future actions 'The I Inside' is nonetheless an entertaining and interesting thriller that grabs you and never lets go.
We're thrown into the story with no background and feel exactly like the main character and it's almost impossible to lose interest in a smart plot that only loses its edge towards the end.
Phillippe proves he is up to the task heading a competent cast filled with strong performances.
The biggest achievement however is the superb direction that provides us some wonderful shots and gives a lesson in tension build up and suspense.
Even if the idea behind it is heavily abused and the end is anything but original 'The I Inside' is certainly worth a view.
Perhaps more could have been accomplished but still it's a good ride.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Simon Cable (Ryan Phillippe) awakens in the hospital after an incident
where, at least according to his physician, Doctor Newman (Stephen
Rea), he was having convulsions and had to have his stomach pumped. His
doctor is worried about him, for reasons that he doesn't specify very
well to Simon, but Simon seems okay. At least until Dr. Newman asks him
the date. Simon has to look outside his hospital window to even see
what season it is, and he says that the year is 2000. It's really 2002.
Somehow, he lost two years that he cannot remember. Worse, two
different women seem to appear as his wife. The more he tries to figure
out what happened, the more of a living nightmare it becomes. Is he
losing his mind? The I Inside has him trying to remember his past,
solve a number of mysteries, and figure out what is really going on.
That a film like The I Inside has an American release on the Starz! Mystery channel (and not until January 2005), while a film like Alone in the Dark (2005) has a major multiplex release across the country makes as much sense as leaving the Ferrari at home and cruising the strip on a tricycle instead in an attempt to impress the chicks. Even though it has clear stylistic and thematic precursors, The I Inside is a gem of a film that should have had a theatrical release at an earlier date. It ended up as a 10 out of 10 for me.
In a film like this, you can't say much about the plot without providing spoilers. To give you an idea of what the film is like, though, it would be sufficient to cite the other works that the I Inside cast and crew have mentioned as influences--The Sixth Sense (1999), The Others (2001), Donnie Darko (2001), Memento (2000), and perhaps most significantly Jacob's Ladder (1990). There are also a number of similarities to The Butterfly Effect (2004). But as The I Inside and that film were actually completed at about the same time, it seems like another of those too-numerous-for-coincidence eras when there was "something in the air" that led to a number of similar films. It's not that the films are copying from one another so much as that they share influences, ranging from precursor films to concurrent societal concerns and even scripts that are being shopped around.
The structure of The I Inside is complex from the start and increases in complexity as the film plays out. That director Roland Suso Richter is able to keep it as coherent as he does is a remarkable testament to his skill. Phillippe is in almost every shot of the film, as by necessity, we have to see the film as his character does, to piece it together with him. This is the best performance I have ever seen from him, and he's usually good. He has an ability here to turn on a dime and provide a believable character who gradually comes to a realization as he bounces back and forth between temporal settings. It's even more complicated than that, as when he's playing the character in the previous temporal setting, he has to be two characters at once--the character as he was when that temporal setting initially occurred, and the character from the later temporal setting experiencing it again, as a voyeur, while piecing together the puzzle.
Richter also manages an eerie mood of displacement throughout the film. This puts the viewer in a frame of mind similar to Phillippe's character, helping the viewer feel the disorientation and encroaching paranoia and madness along with the character. It works marvelously. It's also worth briefly mentioning the fantastic music by Nicholas Pike, as it does much to enhance the mood.
The I Inside is the perfect example of why originality isn't the most important criterion for a good film. Although it wears its influences on its sleeve (or its hospital gown in this case), this is one of the best films ever made in this horror subgenre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A man (Ryan Phillipe) awakens from a coma, not remembering any events
from the past two years. He doesn't recognize his evil wife (played
deliciously by Piper Perabo), or his alleged mistress (the lovely but
miscast Sarah Polley). He soon suspects that someone in the hospital is
trying to kill him--and then finds himself in the same hospital two
years earlier, with the ability to bounce back and forth between the
two time periods.
Although it sounds like something that has been done many times recently, the first half of this movie is actually suspenseful and engaging. Unfortunately, with a plot twist, the movie goes downhill about halfway through. While the movie will keep you thinking for a while afterwards, it is ultimately forgettable because it is way too typical of the current crop of sci-fi "memory" thrillers. Perabo is great here--she gets to play a shy mousy nurse in 2000 and then a malicious blackmailing wealthy woman in 2002. Sarah Polley is one of the best actresses of her generation, and I'm not sure why she's in this movie. Phillipe delivers the expected humdrum performance.
My Rating: 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are serious spoilers below.
Any sort of storytelling is about engagement, and one of the most interesting engagement strategies is the "puzzle" story. This comes in several varieties, starting with the detective story which plainly presents you with a mystery and a surrogate in the story with whom you presumably collaborate. At the other end are the surprise puzzles that present you with information at the end that makes you re-evaluate what you knew: "Sixth Sense," "Usual Suspects."
The ones that are the most fun are the ones whose puzzles are a serious challenge and which don't wrap up cleanly at the end. "Memento" and "Fight Club" were great fun, because you carried the narrative around for days afterward and because it was purely cinematic, you essentially *lived* in the movie, overlain on your own world.
Then there's the subclass of cinematic narrative within that group. Here's where you have a puzzle with several solutions. Naturally the simplest one is the one usually considered "true." But it leaves some loose ends that are considered mistakes, or merely superfluous. But a non-novice puzzle-solver can see the deeper solution.
"Irreversible," "Identity," and "Primer" are examples of this. And this film is another.
The story is that a young man awakens in a hospital in 2002. He discovers he was there also on that day in 2000 the victim of an accident, and he cannot recall the intervening two years. The two periods overlap. There are threats and two women that appear and disappear.
The novice solution is that he, his brother and a shared woman got involved in a happenstance that ended in them all dying in a car accident in 2000. (This setup and accident, incidentally are prototypically noir. So the movie invokes a movie with unreal characteristics instead of real.) Our hero dies for two minutes, is resuscitated and dies again immediately. The solution is that all we have seen is the two minutes in his mind envisioned as two years, and him trying to come to terms with the noir mechanics of the accident that killed his brother.
A more advanced solution is that he was resuscitated and remained in a coma for two years. We are introduced to a character who has been waiting for a heart transplant. In 2002, when our waking hero visits this guy, he sees a comatose patient in the same room. That is he, ready to donate his heart. We then see our hero "kill" this recipient patient by stabbing in the heart, both in 2000 and 2002. Our hero finds himself on an elevator with an orderly and a covered body (the recipient) and the orderly says "this never happens."
So a more advanced solution is that the two years is spent in constantly revisiting and reliving the movie inside during the two years of coma. When the transplant actually happens, our hero sabotages it to put himself out of misery.
An even more advanced solution is the one I prefer. For background, you need to know some tradition about the untrusted narrator. Usually, you know who the narrator is, but later you discover that they cannot be trusted. "The Others" is a good example. What's much more interesting is when you discover not only that the narrator cannot be trusted, but neither can your knowledge of who that narrator is. The advanced solutions to "Identity" and "Primer" are of this type.
So its cool if you consider this other solution. Our hero in fact died in the accident. When he visits the morgue, there are three bodies there. His heart went to the recipient we know, and has prompted two years of haunting in that body and mind. So the narrator whose visions we see are in fact the guy with the new heart. Shades of "Return to Me."
In this case, when we see our hero strapped in an MRI machine, it is actually the heart recipient (Travitt, who blurs with the orderly Travis who tells our guy he will take him on a journey). And that guy is threatened by a masked man who actually is our hero, Simon.
I prefer this solution. You might as well. Oh, and it has Sarah Polley as the cause of the whole disaster.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
Here is a film that will keep you wondering just what it's all about.
For those who are into such movies, you're in for a treat. The familiar
theme of going back to the past to "fix" certain wrongs is offered here
with an engaging plot and a bang-up twist.
Simon Cable is a wealthy young man who wakes up in a hospital after some kind of accident in 2002, supposedly due to wood refinishing fumes. We soon learn that he has been in this hospital before, in 2000, which is when his brother Peter was killed. His wife Anna comes to see him but apparently was somehow involved in the cover-up of the truth behind Peter's death. All of this is unknown to Simon, since he has amnesia (or so his doctor thinks) and now believes he has lost two years of his life. It is here that we movie-goers become intrigued, and the attention-grabbing twists do not stop. Who is the blond woman Claire? What is the secret of Simon's brother's death? Why is his doctor unfathomably a pediatrician?
As Simon recovers from his accident, he seems to have flashbacks to 2000, filling the holes in his memory. Or does he? His doctor in 2000 makes a pretty good case that his mind is creating images that Simon feels are actually premonitions of 2002. Confused? Well, so's Simon, and we come to understand the "real" story in bits and pieces, just as Simon does. Eventually, he believes (based on a rather shocking incident during a "flashback" to 2000) that he can go back in time to undo past wrongs and, as in so many other films of this type, things do not go well.
Seen it before, you say? Well, this is a well-wrought presentation of the basic premise, with a possible murder and wife/mistress conflict, some good editing, and more than respectable acting, especially from Ryan Phillipe (Simon), who seems to be blossoming as an actor, or at least is getting better roles. This is a good thing, considering that Phillipe is in every scene, and the other actors all have rather small parts by comparison. Big-name actor Stephen Rea as Doctor Newman is nothing to write home about, but that may partly be because his role is relatively less significant to the total story. The role of Simon's brother Peter, played by Robert Sean Leonard, is even smaller, and Leonard seems to barely walk through it. However, watch for Stephen Graham's portrayal of particularly crabby heart patient Travitt in the year 2000 scenes.
In any event, go into this film with an open mind, and try not to compare it to others of its genre, most recently "The Butterfly Effect." The last few minutes of the film will make you rethink your comparisons anyway and leave you with a new confusion worth discussing at your favorite coffeehouse afterwards.
I've never liked the idea of test screenings. The changes they make
just end up neutering a movie and making it "safe" for the general
masses. But if ever a movie needed feedback to prompt a rewrite and
alternate ending, this is it.
The first half of this movie is spectacular. It's atmospheric, tense, and confusing (in a good way). It kept you guessing the whole way. Much like Memento, it's an intelligent film that makes you watch closely and think. The story could have gone a number of directions.
...but the last half, it all falls apart. They start changing the "rules", the suspense gives way to straight storytelling, and the ending goes a completely different direction than it could have, and SHOULD have. It's not just that I didn't like the ending or that it didn't match my predictions. The problem is the truth is still unclear and viewers are left confused. Too much is left unexplained.
As it is, the film is wasted potential. A good story and a good movie, but one that could have been so much better with a different ending.
The first two-thirds of "The I Inside" are fantastic: very intriguing
and engaging, recalls "The Butterfly Effect", "Jacob's Ladder" and
"identity", just to mention three similar movies. The situation of
Simon Cable resuscitated without memory in the hospital in two
different years is disclosed like a puzzle, and I was mesmerized with
this film. Unfortunately, it seems that the screenplay writer raised so
many weird situations that he was not able to conciliate all of them in
a satisfactory ending, and indeed the plot has a very disappointing
conclusion. I regret and feel sorry, since this movie could have been a
masterpiece of the genre. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "O Terceiro Olho" ("The Third Eye")
There should be another category to describe films that don't exactly
fit the accepted genres of horror, supernatural or psychological
I call it the "Puzzle-Box" genre. Puzzle-Box films challenge you to think and discover the answers, rather than spoon-feeding them to you. Not everyone enjoys that when going to the movies. Classifying a film as a Puzzle-Box would make it easier for that film to find its audience.
THE I INSIDE is one of those films. Others are MULHOLLAND DRIVE, IDENTITY (same writer as THE I INSIDE), JACOB'S LADDER, and many modern Korean films, such as OLDBOY, HYPNOTIZED, TALE OF TWO SISTERS, and the brilliant but obscure SPIDER FOREST. And to a lesser extent, MEMENTO, which is fun on the first watch, but bored me on the second, since no new clues are revealed.
THE I INSIDE give more answers at the end than OLDBOY or MULHOLLAND DRIVE, but it is still a fascinating film.
This is is Ryan Phillippe's most challenging role, and he does an excellent job, but the standout for me was Piper Perabo-- she went through some tricky personality quirks (I'm purposely leaving things vague) which added to the mystery.
Like with Memento, another film dealing with memory loss, it takes some
time to get used to the storytelling. The main reason is that no one
explains nothing at first... clues come all along the movie up until
the end. You're not taken by the hand and shown anything. Like the main
character, you're thrown in the story with no real point of reference
and it takes some adjusting.
But that's also what makes the movie interesting. The ending can be perceived as weak if you're watching it like a thriller but if you're looking at it from a psychological point of view, it's really impressive what our minds can do and the mysteries still to unlock in our own brains.
The acting is pretty good (except Piper Perabo who is not good enough to be creepy or believable as anything else than a goodie-2-shoes) and the direction is SUPERB.
Don't misunderstand, the tension IS there so you'll get your thrills but it's not a mystery movie so much as a psychological drama about denial and acceptance. In the end that's all there is to it.
Don't take my word for it... check it out as soon as you can.
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