Unsane Blu-ray Review
UNSANE is a gripping psychological thriller directed on a shoe string budget by Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh is also the cinematographer and the editor for the film. It’s a film about a troubled woman who can’t seem to escape her stalker. Is she seeing him now or is it in her mind? That is something you will discover for yourself.
Claire plays Sawyer Valentini, the aforementioned troubled woman who works at a bank. She’s very direct at her job and seems to be doing well. Her mind and eyes wonder as she seems to get a glance at a man she has tried to get away from. Her boss gives her accolades, but also makes an uncomfortable proposition to her regarding an upcoming conference.
Sawyer is cordial with her coworkers, but doesn’t seem to socialize much. She eats alone outside while chatting with her mother (Amy Irving) on the phone. She says everything is all right. You can tell that it is not. She meets up with a guy from a dating app and is quite upfront with him how the evening will transpire. This ends badly with her distraught in the bathroom.
This is when UNSANE really gets cooking. She goes to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. She has an appointment with a therapist. She reveals her story about the stalker that she escaped from. She tells how it has affected her life and how she has thought about suicide to end the pain. The therapist seems to be intently listening. The therapist then states she needs to sign a form.
Whenever a person says a form is nothing, it usually ends up as something in television or in the movies. That is indeed the case here. Sawyer is led down various corridors. Soderbergh does a brilliant job here ratcheting up the tension that Sawyer feels as she’s not sure what is going on. He does this entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus. It doesn’t feel cheap or degraded because of this. It puts you more in the mind of Sawyer. You always sense that you are being watched with this shooting style and it works quite well in various scenes.
Sawyer of course unwittingly signs a form that commits her for 24 hours at the facility. She is told to strip down to her underwear and she has her belongings searched through. The level of paranoia is palpable throughout. She soon meets some of the other people in the facility. There is Juliet (Juno Temple) who really does not like Sawyer and badgers her with every chance she gets. Then there is Jacob (Raul Castillo) who gets in her face and she does not know how to deal with him. So she reacts violently. And finally there is Nate (Jay Pharoah). Nate is the voice of reason. He tells her the lay of the land and how to survive it. He tells her he thinks this facility is an insurance scam. He believes they commit people for the numbers and until the insurance runs out. Sawyer spies him one night talking on a cell phone. She blackmails him so she can use it to call her mother after her one call to the police proved fruitless. Pharoah is a revelation here. I only knew him from his time on Saturday Night Live. He was so adept in playing Barack Obama. I did not realize he could do a dramatic role so convincingly. I look forward to what he has planned in the future.
Claire Foy carries this film. She is most known for playing two royals as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” and Anne Boleyn in “Wolf Hall”. This is quite different in this role. She is less in control and vulnerable than those two powerful women. Her American accent is spot on. A lesser actor could have torpedoed this project. They could have been too over the top or spastic as it were. Foy beautifully walks the line of sanity here.
During this time Sawyer sees an orderly (Joshua Leonard) that looks just like her stalker. Is it really her stalker or is it in her mind? The game then starts between this guy and Sawyer. On the outside, her mother is trying desperately to get her out. She is though running into several road blocks. Soderbergh has various camera tricks up his sleeve in showing the manic state that Sawyer is in. There is one particular scene that is quite jarring and effective when she just loses it. You are feeling what she feels at the time. I also want to compliment the music used in the film. There are no famous pop songs used, but music that puts you in a certain frame of mind.
UNSANE is a quality psychological thriller that will have you on the edge. Soderbergh and the actors all do top notch work that should be seen.
Video: The style and drab colors do wonders to capture the spirit of the film.
Sound: The sound was just all right. There was a lot of hushed dialogue that forces you to use the closed captioning.
Unsanity (4:36): This is a short feature that shows how certain scenes were filmed. The interesting part about it is that neither the director nor stars talk about the scenes. It is captured visually.