‘Unsane’ Review

UnsaneUnsane is a psychological thriller film shot, edited, and directed by Steven Soderbergh that stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, and Amy Irving. The film follows Sawyer Valentini, a young businesswoman who ends up involuntarily committing herself to a mental institution after seeking help for hallucinations of a former stalker. While inside, she sees her stalker again and begins to wonder if he’s truly there or if she is actually going crazy. Steven Soderbergh does a great job directing and editing this film considering he made the interesting choice to shoot the footage entirely on the iPhone 7 Plus. He manages to capture the uncomfortableness and uncertainty of being stuck in a mental institution. Even though the place looks nice, it feels cold and unloving. The way the patients are treated feels wrong as they are kept drugged up most of the time and are never seen getting the mental help that they need. The graininess of the iPhone 7 Plus makes Unsane feel like a modern B movie and proves that not all movies need inflated budgets. Claire Foy is captivating as Sawyer Valentini. She just wants to get back to a normal life and to be healthy. The way Sawyer behaves truly does keep the viewer guessing what the state of her sanity is. Not knowing makes the story that much better to watch unfold. However, Foy’s false American accent is pretty noticeable and makes one wonder why her character wasn’t portrayed as British. Joshua Leonard gives a creepy performance as David Strine. His interactions with the other characters are some of the most unnerving scenes in the film. Strine is cold, calculating, and behaves as someone not knowing the difference between reality and fantasy. Certain choices he makes throughout the film make the viewer question what his endgame is. Jay Pharoah is surprisingly great as Nate Hoffman, another patient of the mental institution who becomes friends with Sawyer. Pharoah inserts some of his natural comedic charisma into the calm and collected Nate. He’s one of the few people who believes that Sawyer is sane albeit a little unhinged. He gives her sound advice that she occasionally listens to. Nate is shown to have ulterior motives during his stay in the institution that makes for an interesting twist. Also, there’s a surprise cameo by Matt Damon that is fun to see. The story does start off slowly and takes a while to build up some momentum, but once it hits the climax the film feels totally different. There are character revelations that change the story completely and make the final half of the film so much better. The quality of the film is noticeably lacking in some scenes. There are times where the screen is too dark and scenes that lack color balance. While we know this is to be expected with the film being shot on an iPhone 7 Plus rather than a larger digital camera, I feel many of these issues could have been fixed in post-production. Although budget constraints may have prohibited this. I give Unsane a Decent 7.5/10. The film has a very interesting premise shot in a very interesting way and has some underlying messages about the quality of psychiatric hospitals in the United States.

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