capitalism meets brutalism in art- and design-filled thriller ‘Inside’ starring Willem Dafoe

Nemo is locked in a brutalist penthouse. His heist has gone wrong, and he is stuck among artworks and exclusive furniture designs for days, weeks, months. This is the premise of Inside, the new movie by director Vasilis Katsoupis starring Willem Dafoe as the only character. But the single protagonist is in great company, at least visually.

At the heart of the film is Katsoupis’ decade-long exploration of the objects that adorn contemporary life: could this sophisticated and impeccable living turn against life itself?

‘Inside is a story about a house and a man, both sharing the leading role,’

– Katsoupis explains.

‘An ironic look at how our golden cages can come out as prison cells. A brutal view of the dark side of luxury. A note on the perception of the real world and how it changes given unprecedented stimuli. And, last but not least, a cinematographic take on contemporary art and living, and its real value.’

For the interiors, Katsoupis and Sabel were inspired by Oscar Niemeyer and brutalist churches by German architect Gottfried Böhm, as well as Eastern European brutalism. In particular, the penthouse’s central staircase was based on Niemeyer’s helix staircase from the Itamaraty Palace of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

These architectural references were merged with the atmosphere of an art gallery, to convey the invisible character of the apartment’s art collector owner.

‘Together, we treated the penthouse as a giant birdcage made of glass and cement – where capitalism meets brutalism. The materials we used were minimal, cold, and raw, intensifying the “unwelcome” nature of the house and helping the artworks stand out.’

The film’s set offers a commentary on luxury living, something at the heart of the director’s concept:

‘it’s a high-rise apartment and you can’t escape, nobody can help you, or hear you,’

‘Most of the apartments in high-rise, high-price buildings like that are empty, they are just owned and nobody is living there. Nemo feels as lost and vulnerable as possible.‘

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