Reviews | Written by James Perkins 01/08/2018

UNSANE

After moving away from Boston to start a fresh life, Sawyer Valentini (Foy), still endures the trauma of being stalked by an obsessive individual. Seeking medical advice, Sawyer is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital where she truly discovers if her anxiety is warranted or if it’s all just in her head.

From its start, Unsane is a very intriguing piece of cinema. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Side Effects, Logan Lucky), this tale of ‘who can really be trusted’ is not only one of his most ambitious projects but one that is incredibly well realised and highly original in the way that it’s produced and presented.

Soderbergh shot the entire film using Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, incorporating filters and effects that can be found on the very device that is currently in your pocket or on the desk next to you. The choice to match this recording technique along with the material of the story encapsulates the audience in the very same bubble that our protagonist finds herself in. From the grainy texture of the lens filter to the ‘boxed in’ aspect ratio, Unsane is an authentic experience that will have you questioning your sanity, too.

But that’s not all. The technical masterclass behind this film just lays the foundation; the real standout is the performances but our tightknit cast of patients and doctors. Claire Foy delivers what (in a fair world) could be an Oscar-worthy performance as Sawyer - her commitment and realistic reactions to the situations she finds herself in, all add up to one of the best portrayals you will see all year. The supporting cast - including the likes of Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple, and Jay Pharoah - all provide a sense of raw reality rather than a glossy showbiz atmosphere. Leonard’s performance as David is not only sinister but innocent at the same time; a well-executed character study of a troubled and lonely man.

Soderbergh’s underlying social commentary is also a stroke of genius. At one point, an individual utters the phrase “your cell phone is your enemy”, a sentence that has much more meaning if you relate some of the plot points to elements of your own daily life or someone that you know. So many of the beats of the story are relatable, meaning audiences are not only forced into this thrilling and uneasy experience (much like Sawyer), but can also see exactly where the hospital management are coming from when they commit our lead character in the first place.

Unsane, at its core, is truly one of the finest thrillers out there in the market today. A raw, bitter, and anxiety-inducing feature that takes entirely relatable central plot points and runs with them in the most aggressive fashion. Foy is a true tour de force and should be celebrated for her stellar work, along with Soderbergh for his drive to find new ways of creating interesting pieces of cinema.

UNSANE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: STEVEN SODERBERGH / SCREENPLAY: JONATHAN BERNSTEIN, JAMES GREER / STARRING: CLAIRE FOY, JOSHUA LEONARD, SARAH STILES, JUNO TEMPLE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW