Unsane - This Grammatically Incorrect Movie Rocks
Dir: Steven Soderbergh
Starring Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Amy Irving, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Matt Damon
Steven Soderbergh continues his retreat from retirement with a stroll down Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor, accompanied by his iPhone. His under the radar, low budget latest is a pulpy psycho-thriller set in a mental institution and shot entirely on iPhones. Claire Foy, on career-reinvention form here post-The Crown, is a troubled young woman who inadvertently finds herself committed to an institution whilst trying to discuss her recent experiences of being stalked. Then her stalker turns out to be one of the orderlies. Or does he? Is she delusional or is the man in the white scrubs really out to get her?
That’s the game that Soderbergh plays with his audience at least for the first half of his film. And it’s a tight, effective little thriller, looking quite beautiful given its pocket-based cameras, with Soderbergh’s generally cold, distant style veering from voyeuristic distance to almost intrusive space-invading close ups. For all of the inherent melodrama, the director keeps his film firmly grounded in reality, making Foy’s predicament all the more chilling and her sanity all the more questionable.
At some point the movie goes for a full-on genre tilt that ups the stakes and changes the tone. And then, a little while later, it goes for another similar shift. These “shocks” actually benefit the film though, upping the stakes and bringing even more out of Foy, who is quite superb here. Not even an unexpected cameo from Soderbergh regular Matt Damon can unbalance things, even if it does feel a little odd and out of place.
Unsane is a strong little film that shows both the power of its filmmaker and his adaptability, and just what you can do with an iPhone these days. However, like so much of Soderbergh’s work, it’s very good. But, as so often proves to be the case, his removed, glacial approach once again stops it from being more than that.
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