Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, Unsane, will likely slip past most people's radars this month. I don't think this bothers him in the slightest. Soderbergh knows how to make box-office smashes (Oceans 11, Magic Mike, Contagion), but this project falls far from his traditional tree.
The plot: A young, perfectly normal girl has recently moved far away from home and has gotten a new job. However, her past seems to still haunt her for an unknown reason. When she goes to a therapist to talk about her struggles, she is unknowingly walking into a paranoia-filled nightmare.
The films greatest strength is it's mystery—the ability to give the audience that uncanny “what-the-hell-is-going-on” feeling. That feeling, if not created perfectly, can cause viewers to lose interest. However, when executed properly a movie can leave us desperate for answers until the credits roll and even beyond, depending on how cruel the filmmaker is.
Claire Foy was fantastic for the entirety of the movie. She perfectly portrayed the confusion, fear and panic of someone who feels they've been wrongly admitted into a mental facility. Personally, the idea of being locked away because people think you're crazy and being unable to escape because you've now been labeled crazy and everything you say will be perceived as such shakes me to my core every time I see it dramatized. It's a harsh reminder of the way mental illness has long been dealt with in society.
The cinematography only increased my discomfort— the entire film was shot on an iPhone 7. This is a decision that will likely dominate conversation about this movie, but it seems to me that Soderbergh has gotten bored at this stage of his career, and this was an attempt to revitalize himself. I highly doubt this will change the landscape of filmmaking, like Soderbergh seems to think.
That being said, it's an ugly movie. Anyone who’s seen any recent releases will be able to recognize that Unsane has been shot with the same quality of a student short film. This decision does not ruin the movie -- in fact it adds to the story as the setting of a mental ward, filled with horrifying circumstances, becomes all the more visceral.
All in all, Unsane was a fun movie to sit through. It’s certainly worth the price of admission to see Claire Foy’s performance.