Unsane Review

Nathalie Sibal, Writer

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A month after the Berlin International Film Festival debut, Unsane had its U.S. theatrical release on March 23. The film has mostly received average reviews from movie critics, putting them at a B- on CinemaScore and 79% on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Best known for her portrayal as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown”, Claire Foy takes on a new role as the protagonist, Sawyer Valentini. Unsane follows the story of Sawyer’s trauma after a terrorizing experience with her stalker, David Strine. She begins a new life in Pennsylvania, but continues to struggle with her horrific past. Sawyer consults a therapist at the Highland Creek Behavioral Center and unknowingly admits herself into the psychiatric ward after the session.

 

Despite some faults within its story, Unsane proved to be a thrilling and fascinating experience. The tension throughout the film builds up at a proper pace, leaving the audience at the edge of their seats. Steven Soderbergh creates a horrifying scenario that, unfortunately, mirrors the events in our society today. The fight against the poorly run mental hospital sheds light on a problem that is not widely recognized.

 

Foy’s exceptional performance is the highlight of the entire film.  Unsane allows “The Crown” enthusiasts to witness a hidden side to her talents. She leaves behind the role of a poised and reserved monarch for a bold, broken, and emotionally traumatized woman. Foy keeps the audience engaged in her character’s story, even during the film’s weaker plot points. From every confrontation and violent outburst, she brings the ideas of James Greer and Jonathan Bernstein to life through surprising actions.

 

Using an iPhone 7 Plus and FiLMiC Pro, Soderbergh stepped out of his comfort zone and used a nontraditional way to direct the film. This experiment worked well in his favor as the grainy texture was able to capture the eeriness of the environment. The muted colors used throughout the film accentuated the feelings of depression and anxiety. The close up shots of Sawyer felt claustrophobic and suffocating, which is what Soderbergh might have been aiming for.

Even with its flaws, Unsane finds ways to keep the audience hooked by revealing brutal truths about the world. The film’s portrayal of predatory actions, such as stalking, and the tribulations it brings is more relevant now than ever due to the growing #MeToo movement. Films like Get Out and Unsane are starting to redefine the horror movie genre.