Shot on iPhone 7-plus


23 March 2018| No Comments on Unsane     by Sean Chavel



Is she crazy or is she not? type thriller. Claire Foy is a largely unknown actress who remarkably carries this film Unsane, a thriller that is knowing B-movie material. However, it’s elevated by newness in the details and by realistic staging by the highly reliable director Steven Soderbergh – at least reliable for always attempting something interesting. The protean filmmaker has tried everything (look at the contrast between, say, “Bubble” and “Ocean’s 11”), and here he’s trying a $1.2 million thriller shot on an iPhone 7 plus – the second time this camera device has worked following Sean Baker’s superb “Tangerine” in 2015. So meticulously framed and lit, Soderbergh’s touch is professional looking as well as aptly chilling and eerie visually.

The story quickly establishes Foy as whipsmart businesswoman Sawyer Valentini, who has a few quirks and perhaps paranoia. She meets a guy on a phone dating app and then wigs out. The next day she goes to a mental health facility to talk out her problems, comes off slightly unhinged, signs some papers she shouldn’t have, and gets involuntarily committed to stay under observation. She could get out in a couple days on good behavior, but it’s hard to stay good and clear-minded when everybody around her is a nut. What worsens the situation is when Sawyer discovers that one of the male nurses is supposedly the man – in her mind – who has stalked her the last couple of years.

The downside of a movie like this taking place at a mental hospital is that the movie can feel stifled when tied down to one major location. A good script and a great director can play with the possibilities, however, and there are some key flashbacks, twists, and topical themes about insurance scams perpetrated by the health industry. All the while, Foy is allowed to be consistently a complicated character, a fellow inmate played by Jay Pharoah gives the film some needed mirth, and a Soderbergh regular makes a highly impressionable two-minute cameo.

The ending is striving for ambitious paradoxes. I didn’t feel it worked as I watched it. Yet it did give me something to mull over the day after I saw it (hint, some people don’t recover from trauma, like, ever). “Full Frontal” and “The Good German” are horrible misses that seem cast off in the distant past by now, but otherwise, we’re talking about a director who gets more remarkable with age. This isn’t the kind of Soderbergh film that will blow your mind for ages, but it has a lot of surprises for the intelligent, daring film lover.

98 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Shock Corridor” (1963); “Bubble” (2006); “Side Effects” (2013); “Tangerine” (2015).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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