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DVD Review: Inside Out (1986)

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Low-key, almost somnambulant drama Inside Out isn’t a bad film, provided you know what you’re in for. While the film’s lack of artificially constructed big dramatic moments and lazy psychologizing about its protagonist’s agoraphobia is refreshing, director Robert Taicher lacks the rigorous focus or compositional eye to make much of Jimmy Morgan’s (Elliott Gould) absolutely interior life. Still, if you’re a fan of Gould (as I am), this is a nice showcase of his talents.

Avoiding extraneous details and even the descriptor “agoraphobic” itself, Inside Out sets its sights on Manhattan bachelor Morgan, an apparently content man who never ventures outside, but brings the world to him — food is delivered, sex is delivered, money is delivered. Financially secure thanks to part ownership in an ill-defined outside business venture, he has plenty of time to gamble on sports, watch television, and just sit around the house.

As the film proceeds over the course of several weeks, we watch Morgan hire a new escort (Jennifer Tilly), with whom he develops a close bond, entertain his best friend (Howard Hesseman), who wonders why he never goes out, interact with his housekeeper (Beah Richards), and receive visits from his preteen daughter (Nicole Nourmand). Mostly though, he connects with the outside world via telephone, and if there’s anything more aggressively uncinematic that phone call after phone call, I’m not sure what it is.

While Gould is good at slipping in small visual clues to his character’s interior anxiety, Morgan’s seemingly comfortable existence is mostly challenged by external plot machinations. He discovers that he’s being screwed by business partner Leo Gross (Dana Elcar), and combined with a string of huge gambling losses, his bank account starts to dwindle. Soon, it seems that leaving his apartment might just be his only option.

Taicher leaves most of the mounting tension and feelings of helplessness to Gould’s performance, which ultimately emerges as about the only reason to seek the film out. The script by Taicher and Kevin Bartelme is nicely understated, but Taicher’s direction lacks the point of view to lend much subtext or visual interest to the proceedings.

Inside Out makes its DVD debut courtesy of MGM’s burn-on-demand Limited Edition Collection line, presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Decent color reproduction, adequate image sharpness, and generally clean source materials make for a pleasing transfer. The disc is featureless, which is too bad as it would’ve been interesting to see how MGM tried to sell this restrained to a fault film to ’80s audiences.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.