Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Unsane’ is an Engaging, Unsettling Psychological Thriller

GameStop, Inc.

Unsane

Thankfully, Steven Soderbergh’s retirement was short-lived. Last year he returned to feature films with the delightful hillbilly heist flick Logan Lucky. Now the acclaimed director returns with the genre thriller Unsane, which is probably getting the most attention because Soderbergh shot the film entirely on an iPhone. What could easily be written off as a simple gimmick is so much more, as Soderbergh uses Unsane as a means to take a genre twist on the warped healthcare industry in America while crafting a solid, unsettling thriller that also tackles long-standing trauma and how we as a society rarely listen to victims.

Sawyer (Claire Foy) is young professional working in a bank. She’s been dealing with the trauma of a stalker that has left a lingering effect on her psyche, unsure if the next bearded man she encounters is her stalker. Sawyer seeks counseling for her lingering problems at Highland Creek, a local hospital. She signs some forms after chatting with her therapist, only to find herself trapped within the hospital. Sawyer has been declared a danger to herself and others by this new therapist and thus must be institutionalized for a 48 hour period. Horrified at the prospect of a forced stay in a psychiatric institution, Sawyer lashes out violently which only means that her stay will be extended to a week. Things get even worse for Sawyer when she becomes convinced that one of the male nurses in the hospital (Joshua Leonard) is the stalker that had terrorized her in the past.

There’s a sense of “Is she or isn’t she?” as to the topic of Sawyer’s sanity. Her interactions with fellow patients vary wildly, with a kindly and understanding one (Jay Pharoah) and a violent and unstable one (Juno Temple). Soderbergh’s use of the iPhone my not be the most aesthetically pleasing cinematic device, but the digitized images from an imperfect piece of technology adds to the sense of unease that permeates throughout Unsane. Using an iPhone, Soderbergh starts out shooting the film with very few camera movements, rarely showing the limitations of the device when in motion. As the story escalates, Soderbergh abandons the static camera and yet retains a judicious sense of the limitations, though the imperfections of the technology amplify the overwhelming uncertainty. While Unsane’s iPhone photography may come across as a gimmick, it often works in sync with the unsettling aspects of the storyline.

Once Unsane begins to ramp up its action with a series of reveals that are most obviously spoilers, Foy asserts herself as a commanding leading lady in a way that those who weren’t fans of The Crown have yet to see. One aspect that is not a spoiler is the idea that Highland Creek exploits the cries for help of their patients to institutionalize them and bleed their insurance carrier dry. It’s an interesting genre twist on the broken aspects of our health care system, one that Soderbergh has explored in recent films like Contagion and Side Effects. The screenplay by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer cuts right into the heart of how patients and victims of abuse, mainly women, are rarely listened to by authorities. Those suffering with mental illness or have been traumatized by abuse are told to take their pills and tough it out, which in this particular case isn’t much of a solution and Soderbergh uses it as an effective horror device.

Unsane may be a minor work by Soderbergh, it’s still a fun piece of genre fare with a bit more on its mind than central question of its main character’s sanity. The film definitely veers into some violent trashy territory that some may find objectionable, but I was rapt by this unsettling psychological thriller that sees Soderbergh utilizing new technology to make daring genre films on the cheap. I may not love the aesthetic from the iPhone-shot cinematography, but I’d happily take this over a self-imposed retirement any day.

Unsane
  • Overall Score
4

Summary

While shot on an iPhone, Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane is much more than a gimmick film with a strong lead performance by Claire Foy and themes examining trauma and the American healthcare system wrapped into a genre thriller.

Anytime Costumes

No Responses

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Disney’s ‘Young Woman and the Sea’ is a Triumph of Will – Review

Disney’s ‘Young Woman and the Sea‘ is a Triumph of Will...

‘Skywalkers’ Takes Love to New Heights on Netflix – Spoiler Free Review

‘Skywalkers: A Love Story‘ Takes Love to New Heights while Scaling...

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three’ – Leaves us Wanting More! – Spoiler Free Review

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three‘ is a...

Event News Event Reviews
‘Sweeney Todd’ is a Close Shave at the Chance Theater – Review

‘Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street‘ Cuts it Close...

‘Sweat’ Heats Things Up at the Long Beach Playhouse – Review

‘Sweat‘ delivers a powerful theatrical experience that resonates long after the...

The ‘California Dreams’ Band Reunite on The Sunset Strip For a Night of 90s Nostalgia – Concert Review

Don’t Wake Me Up if I’m Dreaming, The ‘California Dreams‘ Band...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Derek Gumin Talks Planet 13 and UFC 303 Meet and Greets – Interview

Director of Wholesale Accounts at Planet 13, Derek Gumin spoke about...

Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, nearing the end of the 3rd act.

What IS that big dust cloud on the horizon?

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, Endgame

Mhuhahahahahahahah!

Fantoy Comics Presents: A 4th of July Message!

Seriously, America, THIS crap?!?!?

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Michael Hirsh Made Gen X Citizens Via his ‘Animation Nation’ – Interview

Legendary Animator, Michael Hirsh goes from Immigrant to Emperor in his...

Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...