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Ryan Phillippe had the potential to be just another pretty-boy actor following his turn in Cruel Intentions, playing with the affections of both the hot Sarah Michelle Gellar and the sweet Selma Blair. But instead of choosing a series of more glamorous Hollywood roles he decided to pick some slightly more interesting and thoughtful movies. These range from the innocuous but innovative Antitrust to the star-studded Robert Altman film Gosford Park and the fantastic and vastly underrated modern-day Western The Way of The Gun, where he got to star opposite the great Benicio Del Toro. Unfortunately this particular choice of roles has left him somewhat out of the limelight and reduced him to movies that are often neglected at the cinemas. The I Inside is a hidden gem and yet another very unusual role to add to his résumé. The whole amnesiac thing may feel a little familiar, but the rest of it really is quite different from the usual mystery dramas.

I Inside, The
Simon Cable wakes up in hospital to be told that his heart stopped beating and he had to be resuscitated. When the doctor comes to tell him all of this, he finds that he has forgotten over two years of his life, including his marriage. Worse still, his memory is completely jumbled—like a puzzle—and elements keep popping into his head in random order, sometimes weeks apart. His wife, Anna (Piper Perabo - Coyote Ugly) and the doctor (Stephen Rea - The Crying Game) try to help him remember what happened. What they find is a mysterious other woman (Sarah Polley – Dawn of the Dead), and a plot involving money, murder and mayhem.

Playing as a cross between The Butterfly Effect and Memento, The I Inside is an enthralling and remarkably dark movie, that grabs you from the start and keeps you intrigued all the way through. Unusually, it adopts an approach of keeping you in the dark almost throughout, feeding you very few pieces of the puzzle along the way, and this works quite well because you really feel some of the confusion that the lead character is smothered in. Even when you start to get an impression of what might be going on, the plot shifts and twists until you are left bewildered again. And whilst the final reel may not be as satisfying an ending as most viewers would like, as a piece, the movie still remains an interesting work by any standards.

I Inside, The
Phillippe is the star at the heart of the vehicle and his conviction drives the whole movie. With another actor in the role, the movie could have been much less interesting. But he does not to do it all by himself—the two main female roles in particular go towards filling out the acting core—Piper Perabo and Sarah Polley. Both playing somewhat against character, Perabo is in a much more ‘dominant’ role than you might be used to seeing her in and Polley is conversely much more submissive and shy. The tactic of casting against type to add to the confusion—even though it is potentially risky (it was not quite as successful in Antitrust where the two actresses just came across as miscast)—works well here. In addition we get the underused Irish actor Stephen Rea and the grizzly character actor Stephen Lang as another hospital patient.

Director Brett Ratner has done a decent job of piecing together a nice little mystery drama that may not is anything wildly special but is nevertheless a surprisingly entertaining and involving movie. I’m certainly glad Phillippe chose it, and it would be nice to see him get some bigger roles in the future.

I Inside, The
The broad 2.35:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically enhanced transfer that the film is presented in looks extremely good, with little noticeable grain and clinical, clean images depicted with brilliant attention to detail. The sharpness is good, with no sign of edge enhancement being used to keep softness at bay. The colour scheme is quite clinical—the film itself almost entirely set in a hospital—but some of the ‘dream’ sequences have a broader palette and the colours themselves are all well-represented, up to and including the deep and solid blacks. The aspect ratio chosen certainly lends itself to the mystery because, although it is an often claustrophobic affair, the surrealism is better depicted with a wider scope. All in all it is a decent, solid transfer with no sign of dirt, dust or any other defects to impinge upon your viewing pleasure.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is strong in representation of the score but a tiny bit lacking in terms of dialogue clarity. This is a minor point, but something which does become inconvenient at times, especially considering the track, as a whole, is quite rousing. The score is itself quite involving, at times moody and it never does less than augment the whole mystery. There is a little bass, nominally where you would least expect it—again in the score—and the whole track makes good use of scares to really get your attention. There are a few effects, allowing a wider range in a predominantly frontal affair.

I Inside, The
The only significant extras are a bunch of rather short interviews with the cast and the director. Ryan Phillippe and Piper Perabo both contribute, explaining what attracted them to the project and talking about their characters. They were all enticed by the unusual movie and seemed extremely happy to be working together. Roland Suso Richter talks about what he did to prepare to direct this project, his approach to the film’s particular look, and working with Ryan Phillippe. It’s nice to hear from the three of them but the brief sound bites provide nothing substantial.

There is also the two-and-a-half minute international theatrical trailer—which gives too much away, a photo gallery with nine pictures, and some production notes which are accessible through your PC.

I Inside, The
It’s always nice to see the work of acting talent like Ryan Phillippe, and this is an unusual little film for him to have done, and one which is never less than entertaining. The technical specifications for the disc and decent, with exemplary video and above-average audio only let down by slightly muffled dialogue. The extras are quite watchable but a little lacking—an audio commentary explaining just what the hell is going on is much needed here. Overall, I would recommend a rental first to see what you think and only advocate an outright buy if you’re a big fan of Ryan Phillippe.