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“Unsane” Review

by Dakota Gordon

Apparently, Steven Soderbergh was feeling kinda funny one day and decided to make a movie about insane people and recorded it all on his iPhone. I can appreciate a guy who follows through with whatever dumb thing he comes up with.

First thing’s first, Claire Foy was pretty good in this. Not Oscars-good, but good enough to make me think “Yeah, I’d like to see her in more things.” Her performance was more than that of a suited victim in peril of a situation she wound up in. The character has some depth to her, some semblance of a personality that’s not all flowers and candy. What’s fascinating to see is how Foy makes her character seem rational within an irrational situation, yet can’t quite seem to remain rational enough to be labeled so.

Jay Pharoah was surprisingly likable, as the only experience I have with him otherwise is SNL, which isn’t exactly a high-end platform for acting. The rest of the actors act “realistically” (almost not required here) enough to empathize with their situations and whatever else.

Upon the subject of “realism,” Unsane is what I assume to be a metaphor for the entrapment victims of stalking feel while they’re being stalked—or so they think. Lots of paranoia and dimming the reliability of the characters’ (or more just Claire Foy’s) understanding of their setting.

With this in mind, the audience is asked to accept many strange or (hilariously) unrealistic events that occur to further boost that feeling of isolation. In this vein, the movie accomplishes an atmosphere worthy of the title “Thriller,” as I was at least aware that I was feeling unnerved.

Realism is also where the film falters. It tries to make itself seem credible and realistic to better appreciate the “This could happen to you!” vibe—and I’m not arguing that that’s how it wants to make you feel. What I’m suggesting is that this film either wants to be realistic enough to be taken seriously or absurd enough to be taken as metaphor; Soderbergh seems to have difficulty choosing.

I initially expected this to frame the perspective of the lead to be vaguer, but at some point, her fears become realized and the audience can then suffer from the same trauma as she does. While I like this for the fact that it furthers the feeling of hopeless entrapment, it also makes the film less interesting overall. A straightforward path to the ultimate conclusion, with the entire foundation of her situation being chalked up to the evils of Capitalism!

There are little loose coincidences such as this that bring the film down to a level of laziness that feels too snug for its own good. I also saw these same problems with Soderbergh’s other film, Logan Lucky.

And really, that’s all there is to it. Quirky in its darkness, but all-around pretty straightforward. Unsane is a surprisingly sane approach to a traumatic situation with a semi-fantastical approach to a semi-realistic conflict.

How’s that for sentence structure?

Whether it was filmed on an iPhone or the biggest, baddest camera Hollywood, NASA, or the entire earth can afford, it’s very dumb in its sophistication. Whether this is enough to warrant a theater viewing or an off-chance rental can only be made when the mind tells you so.

Rating: 5.5/10

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