The once retired Steven Soderbergh is officially back. The filmmaker’s three year hiatus came to a screeching halt with last year’s crowd-pleasing heist comedy Logan Lucky, and now Soderbergh quickly follows it up with his crafty psychological thriller Unsane. Shot entirely on iphones, an impressive feat that Soderbergh pulls off with astonishing ease, this latest effort fits nicely into the director’s impressive repertoire.
After relocating from Boston to Pennsylvania in order to escape an obsessed stalker, Sawyer (Claire Foy) begins seeing him at every turn and decides it’s time to speak with a professional. Yet, while discussing her issues with a therapist, she unwittingly signs forms to voluntarily commit herself into a hospital for 24 hours. Doctors immediately begin to question Sawyer’s sanity and her stay becomes extended to a week just as she discovers that her stalker works inside of the building.
Unsane looks and feels like a typical Soderbergh film, unraveling in a fluid and entertaining fashion from start to finish. The story always tries to stay one step ahead of the viewer, covering its tracks in a taut and unpredictable manner. And being that it’s filmed on iphones, Soderbergh’s tight close-ups and exaggerated appearance builds a clouded aura of uncertainty that enhances Sawyer’s primary character dilemma of differentiating between fantasy and reality. All of the film’s elements work in complete harmony and allow for Claire Foy to showcase her acting chops. Foy’s performance dwarfs the depths at which her character was written, a true testament to her knack for stealing scene after scene. Moreover, Sawyer becomes increasingly likable as you experience this psychological journey alongside her, yet the character is still sadly scripted like a one-dimensional female lead in a horror film. Nevertheless, Foy manages to elevate everyone and everything around her, including run of the mill supporting turns from SNL's Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple and Joshua Leonard, while Soderbergh delivers a cleverly outrageous and darkly twisted progression of events. Like most of his catalog Unsane is another good but not great effort, and one that Soderbergh gears towards fans of the horror and thriller genres.