A lot of actors love working with filmmakers who constantly try new things and innovate when possible. It keeps things fresh for them, but it also gives them something new to look forward to. I’d imagine that would be one of the reasons why a movie like Unsane could be appealing to a lot of actors. It’s offering them an opportunity to take a few risks while also giving them the chance to collaborate with a director who’s seen as one of the best of his era by many.
Claire Foy stars as Sawyer Valentini, a woman who has a few questions about herself that needs to be answered. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but she all of a sudden finds herself being stripped of her freedom after being involuntarily committed to a mental institution without a clear reason why. Refusing to give in, she decides to do everything she can to figure out how this all came about. In doing so, she will have to confront her fears, her past and the prospect that life that she’s been living isn’t as real as she thinks it is.
On surface, there looks to be a gimmicky approach to this film as it’s made with an iPhone. For some, that could be a positive selling point, but for people like me, it doesn’t really matter all that much. What matters is that the movie itself has legitimate entertainment value. If you can do that, I really don’t care what you shoot it on. Just make sure it works and the visuals aren’t bad to the point where it’s impossible to see what’s going on.
In spite of what my opinion is, I know that there are a group of people who will find a highly touted director’s use of an iPhone to make a feature-length movie intriguing. For people like that, that will be enough to sell them on seeing the movie. It’s understandable, but in reality, it doesn’t really add much to what we’re actually watching here. In fact, Soderbergh could have made this same exact movie with professional cameras and nothing would have changed in the end.
Actually, I have to take that back a little bit. The way Unsane is shot negatively impacts the film since it doesn’t look very good. Maybe it wasn’t the camera, since there are movies out there that have been made with iPhones that look much better than this one does. I’m thinking that Soderbergh either tinkered with filters more than he should have or he did a bit too much touching up in post production. Regardless of why it came out the way it did, it’s clear he could done some more work on it to fix it.
When you’re just looking at Unsane for what it is, there’s some quality stuff here although some of it is rather conventional. The way everything unfolds actually creates enough tension and suspense to mesmerize those of us who will give it a chance. As it progresses, it all builds up in a manner that keeps you guessing for the simple fact that you’re never really sure what’s real since our protagonist isn’t necessarily a reliable source of information and she’s finding things out at the same time we are. In essence, this embodies what makes this a captivating cinematic experience.
As far as the movie itself is concerned, I don’t have very many gripes with what’s here. The only thing from that perspective that was fairly disappointing was the ending. As well paced as the rest of Unsane is, the conclusion is rushed and needed to be slowed down to some degree. It also skips over a few details that could have been expanded on. This is something that happened through certain parts of the movie, but I guess it’s more pronounced toward the end since it’s moving so fast.
What’s weird here is that for something so fleshed out, you would think there would have been more attention given to these details. It’s not enough to make you dislike the movie or anything, but I have to be honest since this is a review. In actuality, what I’m talking about may or may not effect how you view the movie. I guess it comes down to what you’re looking for. In that case, you’ll just have to see it to judge for yourself.
While the way it’s shot may be what draws some people in, you’ll figure out that this movie isn’t about the gimmicks. As you watch Unsane, you’ll learn that what’s most important are the elements that allow this to be a sound mystery that manages to keep you busy on a mental level. Ultimately, that’s what makes this work. I don’t see this making a ton of money, but if you check it out, you’ll likely be satisfied with what you get out of it by the time the credits start to roll.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Film Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Distributor: Bleecker Street
- Score - 7/107/10