‘The I Inside’ tries very hard with storytelling gimmicks that it ends up more confusing than it needed to be

Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Polley, Piper Perabo, Robert Sean Leondard, Stephen Lang, Peter Egan, Stephen Graham, Rakie Ayola, Stephen Rea
Director(s): Roland Suso Richter
Writer(s): Screenplay by Michael Cooney and Timothy Scott Bogart; based upon the stage play, “Point of Death”, by Michael Cooney

Ryan Phillippe tries to piece it all together in 'The I Inside'
Ryan Phillippe tries to piece it all together in ‘The I Inside’

Is it okay to confess that I like Ryan Phillippe? As an actor, I think he’s pretty good. If he’s in a film, I’m always willing to give it a chance. Ever since I saw Antitrust, which is one of those films I can watch again and again. I may not always like his movies, but I’ll watch them. That is why I was willing to take a look at the upcoming DVD release of The I Inside, which comes out March 8th.

And fortunately, I liked it. Basically.

Okay, it’s a little tiring to watch, mostly because it’s largely just an hour and a fifteen minutes of confusion and five minutes of, “Oh, okay, so that’s what’s happening.” Those five minutes basically fall at the very end, and even then there is a bit of ambiguity.

The I Inside follows Simon (Phillippe) as he wakes after collapsing outside his parents home. Tragically, he discovers he’s lost his memory of the last two years of his life. He discovers he has a wife, and that his brother is dead. However, things begin to fall apart when he meets another woman who claims to be his lover. And then gets even stranger as he begins to believe someone is out to kill him, as he shifts through time and recounts the tragic events that really landed him in the hospital.

Yeah, it’s kind of all over the place. But it does slip from reality to reality rather well, seamlessly in some places. Perhaps that’s the problem with it. Films like this are difficult to get into because, as a viewer, you’re always conscious of it being a movie. You never really get fully invested in it as your thrown from one time period to another, never really certain what’s going on.

It could be compared to Memento, but ultimately this film tries too hard to be confusing. It’s one thing to fill you movie with a lot of twists and turns, but too many only makes the story hard to follow and loses the audience, which is kind of what happens here. By the time its over, you’re so lost you’re just happy the ride is done.

Phillippe does a great job here as the off-balanced Simon. He delivers like a professional, leaving any failure of the story on the structure itself. The rest of the people don’t really do much. Although they aren’t bad, their roles only appear for brief moments of time and most of them lack any real emotion.

The film is only an hour and a half long, but feels longer. The problem being that it waits so long to really provide the audience with any idea of what’s going on. While there are some hints here and there, you’re never really certain. And when you finally find out, the story is actually more tragic than you realize.

Although far from being a perfect film, I still enjoyed it. Phillippe makes Simon likable, even if the character isn’t exactly a good guy. Had someone else been the central role here, I may not have been that forgiving of The I Inside. Still, sometimes there are films that may not be great, yet you enjoy them anyway. That’s true in this case, because while the story is a curvy ride, it does provide a thrill or two along the way.

The DVD itself was rather disappointing, as it has no special features. Not a one. Not even production notes. If any film could have benefited from a little extra information, it’s this one. For example, it was based on a stage play. I would have liked to have learned a little about that, how it differed from the movie and so forth. It would have been nice to get some behind-the-scenes info on this film.

Rated: R
Run Time: 1 hr., 30 mins.

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