Review of Unsane

This post was written by Colin Free on March 28, 2018

In Unsane, Claire Foy stars as Sawyer. Having been subject to a stalker when she lived in Boston, she has moved to Pennsylvania to build a new life. Still troubled by her past and thinking that she still sees her stalker, she seeks psychiatric help, only to be locked-up in an institution against her will.

Thankfully all thoughts of retirement seem to have been shelved as director Steven Sodebergh delivers another intriguing genre exercise. Undeniably there are plot holes and the story is ultimately pulpy but there is enough going on here to make it much more interesting than the standard psychological thriller/horror fluff..

Firstly, he does a great job keeping me guessing about Sawyer’s sanity. As she is the lead character, the natural assumption is that she must be sane, but she does make decisions that made me doubt that. It is only towards the end that things start to pan out more predictably. His decision to shoot the film on an iPhone also works. From the opening shots of Sawyer through some foliage giving the impression that she is being watched, to a brilliant depiction of someone being drugged, to a nightmarish scene in a car boot, Soderbergh makes great use of his chosen technology.

Foy is very good – her performance helping suspend disbelief, even in the more outrageous moments – and both Juno Temple and Jay Pharoah impress as fellow patients. I also liked the sparing use of Thomas Newman’s score, which only springs into life at appropriate times.

Despite working as both an effective piece of suspense and a not-that-subtle critique of America’s deeply flawed medical insurance system, this isn’t quite up with the director’s best, but is very enjoyable nonetheless.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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