esther’s review published on Letterboxd:
probably the most damning thing i can say about this is that it's genuinely accomplished and impressive visually. the problem is that this is at odds with the ostensible conceit that we're watching burnham's emotional and creative collapse during the pandemic. there's a lot here that comes off as phony bullshit, but it's the visuals that rankle the most for this reason. a shot of burnham lying on the floor under a blanket amongst the tangles of computer cords and lighting apparatuses is supposed to project desperation and defeat, but he can't help but frame it all ever so perfectly, showing off (not for the only time) how much fancy and expensive equipment he has at his disposal. burnham's compulsion to aestheticize, even in interesting ways, only serves to reinforce the film's accidental message: that bo burnham is doing pretty well, all things considered.
inside is a film that captures a very specific experience of 2020, that being the perspective of people who were well-off enough to stay 100% completely cut off from the world for the pandemic's duration. some of us had to go to work every day, bo. as in, outside of our houses work. for some people that involved setting up the packages of self-help books to put on delivery drones so that you could write a line about them in a song about how oh so sad you are to be disconnected from the people around you. bo burnham lives with his girlfriend, by the way. the film is dedicated to her but she never appears or is mentioned. i understand that the conceit of the room he's trapped in is partly metaphorical, but it's hard to take this seriously knowing that at the end of every day he walked the door and into the arms of the woman he's been in a relationship with for eight years. again, bo, you know some of us didn't have that luxury right? you know that for some of us the only thing we could rely on for human connection was the internet? the thing you depict (not, i'll admit, entirely unfairly) as a species-killing villain?
i'm sorry but i fucking hated almost every minute of this. burnham hides behind layers and layers of irony and self-awareness and doomer bullshit to disguise the fact that not only is he out of touch, but out of ideas as well. so many insufferable moments of burnham making jokes that are corny and played out and bad but oh no it's okay because he *acknowledges* it, he *knows* that he's full of shit, which means it's okay for him to fart out a 90 minute stream of half-formed parody songs which universally feature lyrics repeated over and over and over so that maybe you won't realize he couldn't really get past the initial premise in the writing stage. so many moments where burnham hopes you forget that the last 5 years of his life weren't spent accruing millions of dollars and dozens of awards for his feature film debut, not to mention acclaim for his acting work in other films. utterly worthless, vile, narcissistic trash. grow the fuck up.