A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is confronted by her greatest fear–but is it real or a product of her delusion?
For a man who announced his ‘retirement’ a few years ago, Steven Soderbergh is still keeping himself incredibly busy with his second film in less than 12 months. Following on from comedy caper ‘Logan Lucky’ is a shift in tone to much darker material with ‘Unsane’, a film that focuses on a young businesswoman (Claire Foy) who ends up in a mental institution after she is stalked by a disturbed man (Joshua Leonard) she used to know in her hometown. The intrigue in the film centres on whether the stalker is real or a manifestation of Sawyer’s (Foy) fears and I felt the film neatly played both sides of this argument until we reach the point when it has to choose one way or the other.
Claire Foy (best known as Queen Elizabeth II in ‘The Crown’) is a real driving force in ‘Unsane’, dominating every scene with a tour de force of a performance that emphasises her mental state and the growing concern of someone who feels they are trapped in an environment with their stalker. It’s a completely different performance from her work I’ve seen to date and really shows her range, and I found her to be believably scared and easy to empathise with, helping to ground some of the more implausible elements of the screenplay. The film is shot entirely on an iPhone 7 which could easily be seen as a gimmick but I felt it worked and I don’t think I’d have noticed if I wasn’t aware of this stylistic choice beforehand. Its main success is in allowing Soderbergh to shoot from unusual angles that emphasises the off kilter feel of the material, and by extension putting you up close with Sawyer and her internal thoughts, which Foy sells superbly. The supporting cast are fun with Juno Temple and Jay Pharaoh standouts, although the teases of subplots never really materialise into anything concrete.
‘Unsane’ is an entertaining psychological thriller, a film with B-movie credentials but elevated by Soderbergh’s technical expertise and masterful handling of the material, and with Claire Foy’s convincing performance I found myself hooked.
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Claire Foy, Jay Pharaoh, Aimee Mullins, Justin Leonard, Amy Irving, Juno Temple, Matt Damon and Polly McKie