Unsane Movie Review
slightly, but just ever so slightly, unconventional psychological thriller, in which a young woman (Claire Foy of The Crown) inadvertently gets herself admitted to an asylum and discovers that she is trapped inside padded walls with her longtime stalker and no one who believes her.
Then again, she could just be fucking nuts.
Unsane, which apparently was shot entirely on iPhones because Soderbergh can’t afford real cameras anymore, looks fantastic. Soderbergh uses his phone cameras to present a claustrophobic perspective that often feels as though he’s literally filming from within his characters’ heads—or at least a few inches from them. And yet Unsane looks professional, boasting beautiful color saturation, interesting camera angles, and energetic cinematography that feels fresh and unique.
I’m not one to normally fixate on camera usage, but Unsane truly looks great. In an off kilter, kinetic kind of way that parallels the movie itself quite well.
The first act is the film’s best as Soderbergh approaches his subject from all angles, literally, and Foy eats up scenery with a breathtakingly raw performance. Is she crazy or she is not? It’s hard to tell, and it’s hard to tell if Foy even knows herself—but she goes full throttle and rarely lets go.
Unsane loses some of its appeal as the story develops and Soderbergh more or less establishes what is going on—this isn’t the type of film where you have to wait until the final scene to figure out whether all the crazy is in her head or not. Once the story is truly afoot, Unsane isn’t quite as fascinating; it still looks great, but the cinematography settles down and the movie more or less becomes a routine thriller, perhaps being a bit too overt with its hints, if you could call them that.
The movie picks back up in the third act though as Soderbergh throws some twists and turns into the mix, making the movie at least somewhat unpredictable and certainly suspenseful. It’s hard to tell whether Joshua Leonard purposefully acts the way he does or is actually just a really bad actor, but unfortunately his performance and character don’t exactly push the film to new heights (Kathy Bates in Misery he is not)—still, Unsane is Foy’s show and she takes full advantage.
When all is said and done, Unsane is a compelling exploration of (alleged?) psychosis that features a great performance from Claire Foy, unique photography from Soderbergh, and an entertaining if ultimately somewhat conventional story. It isn’t great, and it isn’t quite as fascinating as 2013’s Side Effects, but it’s a fun little thriller worth seeing.
Insane or unsane? You should see for yourself.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.