Unsane (2018)

Unsane (film).pngUnsane Claire Posse

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Starring: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving, Polly McKie, Zach Cherry

In an effort to escape her stalker, Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) takes a new job in a new city. She seeks help from a consultant at a nearby hospital, where she confesses to contemplating suicide. After being advised to sign some papers, Sawyer unknowingly commits herself to spending 24 hours in a psychiatric ward, where she claims one of the orderlies is actually her stalker.

The draw of filmmaking was clearly too powerful for Steven Soderbergh to resist, as this marks his second released film since his supposed retirement just 5 years ago. This foray was especially notable, as he shot it in secret on an iPhone 7 Plus. Just like Sean Baker's Tangerine, this is a tactic which shows the capabilities of today's technology, working rather well. Not just a gimmick, this is an inspiring tool for aspiring filmmakers everywhere.

Image result for unsane 2018 film youtubeAs for the film itself, it's of two halves. What begins is a tense and gripping thriller, as we witness Sawyer understandably reacting to her unexpected change in circumstances. Unfortunately, her actions just serve to make her look all the more guilty, leading to the doctors wondering about her state of mind. The way Soderbergh frames it all leaves questions for the viewer. Are we witnessing the unravelling of our leads mind, during her time locked away? Or has the stalker really placed himself in the hospitals employment, leaving her ignored pleas to feel relevant throughout this age of TimesUp and Me Too? Either way, we're treated to a haunting lead performance by Claire Foy.

But after a certain point, the film settles on the mental state of Sawyer, which sees it change gears. This does result in it turning into a compelling two hander between Claire Foy and another cast member, but it also leaves the film entering more generic territory. In spite of some terrific moments, it grows more convoluted, and what remaining believability is thrown out of the window. A shame, as it was previously doing well with taking aim at the flawed health care system.

When Unsane works, it's a gripping thriller that leaves one on edge, powered by a tremendous lead performance. Steven Soderbergh does well to engross viewers, even if things stumble after a point.