Unsane (2018)


Steven Soderbergh directs Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard and Juno Temple in this thriller about a stalked woman who finds herself committed in the very asylum where her attacker is working. 

It is a solid hook for a thriller and a perfect showcase for Foy who impresses as the flinty, unsympathetic survivor. No wallowing for her – she is rude, aggressive and self centred. Pleasing so. It is a cracking performance in an OK thrill ride. Like Emily Blunt’s brave turn in The Girl on the Train, a complex lead working hard for a lacklustre film. Unsane is a bit more involving than that movie, even if it never goes anywhere particularly shocking, the threat that it might is at least constantly impressed on the viewer. Soderbergh’s gimmick of using an IPhone to film his feature works. It gives the image a burnt out, flat air matching our protagonist’s world view. The lack of focus means everything in frame is weighted with equal importance to our eyes, meaning shots are often busy rather than swiftly processable. And it is a film about perception and self image, so what better tool than the icon of how we as a society now distribute our projected lives. While Unsane doesn’t match the high standard of his best work, it is in keeping with an unwritten theme he explores in nearly all his movies. Criminal love. Whether it be fetishes of sex, lies and videotape or Full Frontal, the outlaw romances of Out of Sight or the Ocean’s Trilogy, the monetised sexualisation of Magic Mike or The Girlfriend Experience, or even the world where touch is forbidden like Contagion, Soderbergh is fascinated in making human contact impermissible and illegal. Joshua Leonard’s pleasant but controlling monster here is just another aspect of Soderbergh’s view that humans will break all manner of barriers to fulfill their needs – even consent.


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