Steven Soderbergh takes a pulpy turn in his latest lo-fi thriller Unsane, which follows a woman who unwittingly ends up in a psychiatric hospital, where she comes into contact with her stalker from whom she’s been trying to escape. Claire Foy is refreshingly venomous as she takes a break from her role as Queen Elizabeth in Netflix’s The Crown to play Sawyer Valentini, a woman starting a new life across the country after escaping from a stalker back in her home town. Foy’s fierce and occasionally funny portrayal of the character makes the film all the more watchable.
Soderbergh’s choice to shoot the entire movie on an iPhone at first seems like a misjudgement, but once the story takes us into the hospital where Sawyer accidentally admits herself, the lo-fi, Dogme-esque aesthetic comes into its own and allows for some inventive camera angles, such as simply placing the phone face up on a table and viewing the actors from below as they talk.
The story, however, is what eventually lets Unsane down. Several plots begin to converge on each other simultaneously, and while each thread would work as a movie on its own, here it begins to feel exhausting as it becomes apparent that the separate stories aren’t really that well connected. Sawyer’s confrontation with her stalker leads to a progressively wild third act, which is fun to watch, but in retrospect, feels like it dragged on and could’ve wrapped up with more sharpness than it ultimately did.
There’s no doubt that Unsane is thrilling and great fun to watch, with Claire Foy making Sawyer a character that you really want to root for. However, the plot is just slightly too loose and it fails to make a satisfying impression after the credits roll.
CAST: Claire Foy, Jay Pharaoh, Juno Temple, Joshua Leonard
DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
WRITERS: Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer
SYNOPSIS: 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?