Reviews

The I Inside (2003)

Nikki Tranter

You know something's wrong with your film when the most interesting thing in it is a 20-second scene featuring Robert Sean Leonard.


The I Inside

Director: Roland Suso Richter
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Polley, Stephen Rea, Piper Perabo, Robert Sean Leonard
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Dimension
First date: 2003
US DVD Release Date: 2005-03-08
Amazon affiliate

Note: Plot spoilers ahead

You know something's wrong with your film when the most interesting thing in it is a 20-second scene featuring Robert Sean Leonard. Especially when that film is supposed to be a thriller, written by Michael Cooney (who scripted the ingenious Identity [2003]). So what happened to The I Inside? And does Leonard, star of Dead Poets Society (1989) and a Tony Award winner for Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, even know he deserves more?

Leonard appears here as Peter, dead brother of Simon (Ryan Phillippe), who wakes up one mysterious night in a hospital bed after a horrendous accident, only to be told that he died, too -- but just for two minutes in the ER. Missing the two years after the accident, Simon is shocked to learn from Dr. Newman (Stephen Rea) that it's 2002. Simon initially thinks he's got a mild case of amnesia, something curable by therapy, but soon learns his problems are more extreme. Following a visit from Anna (Piper Perabo), the wife he doesn't remember, Simon learns he was a loathsome backstabber and may have killed the brother whose girlfriend he's been sleeping with.

In the time it takes him to have just these two conversations, Simon transforms from a nice guy in a bad situation into a treacherous jerk. His dark side, at this point, is confusing to him, which gives the film a decent kick start. Unfortunately, the scenario quickly loses its appeal. After Anna's visit, the doctor sets Simon up for a CAT scan, but before the test begins, Simon freaks out at the appearance of a stranger who attempts to stick a needle in his arm. Before you can cover your mouth and cough "Jacob's Ladder," he wakes up in a different time, after a different accident, and Anna is suddenly just a hospital nurse he's never met. Realizing (somehow) that he can shift between 2000 and 2002, Simon embarks on a race through his own past and present to save his brother's life and set his own on a more righteous path.

This is mildly baffling, because the movie never makes clear just how Simon is able to slip about in his own head until its end, and by that time you're already expecting the revelatory, yet entirely familiar, ending. The film's twists and turns are also familiar, used most recently in Soul Survivors (2002) and, to a lesser extent, The Butterfly Effect (2004). The I Inside is almost a misguided blending of these already misguided films, leading at last to a Wizard of Oz-ish was-all-a-dream resolution. (At one point, Cooney even has Simon talking to himself as he tries to make sense of his situation -- always a bad sign.)

Familiar as this plot may be, the characters needn't be so unappealing. Identity's genius lay in its presentation as an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, rather than a mind-bending psychological thriller. The characters drove the ideas as much as the other way around. In The I Inside, on the other hand, the characters are so completely boring that the audience can't help but jump ahead in the story, arriving at Simon's conclusion long before he gets there himself.

Something about Leonard's lack of screen time -- about two minutes in all, with most spent in shadowed background -- begs the question as to whether or not there's more to the film than we're seeing (the extras-less DVD offers no clues). Simon's memory jigging is pointless, as we just don't even know enough about him to care if his brother lives or dies.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Music

Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.

Music

Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".

Music

Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.

Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.