Steven Soderbergh came back to directing movies with last year’s big heist film, Logan Lucky. This year, Soderbergh goes smaller and simpler in Unsane. In this movie, a woman named Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) trying to flee her stalker, but subsequently is held against her will in a psychiatric facility. But this time, Soderbergh filmed his movie entirely on three iPhones! The iPhone 7 Plus to be exact, and it cannot have been as easy as it looks.
Complaints have been made about this, some saying the more grainy images from the iPhone hampered their own enjoyment of the movie. I personally found that to be one of the best selling points, the aesthetic fueling the atmosphere of unease and fear present throughout the movie. It is precisely because everything looks so static, so unclear, that makes this movie more engaging. There are also some interesting angles utilized by the iPhone’s small size that can establish a clear frame for the audience’s perspective that I’m not sure a traditional, larger camera would have allowed.
Unsane may or may not have been inspired by reality. A scandal two years ago involving United Health Services Hospitals alleged that patients were being held against their will, having unknowingly signed paperwork to have themselves committed in a scam for the hospitals to acquire their insurance money. Soderbergh has not confirmed or denied this, probably for legal reasons. Regardless of such, I was well-invested in the plot and concerned for Valentini’s own psyche, the fear of her stalker mixed with more irrational thoughts brewing in her mind. You really start to wonder if Valentini herself is truly going mad.
Unsane, in spite of some pacing issues at the beginning and a few truly unbelievable moments, is a good movie that is well worth a watch. If, like myself, you love well-made, psychological thrillers, you’ll like this movie. Soderbergh has essentially crafted a solid B-movie that happened to get the likes of several somewhat known actors from the likes of Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Amy Irving, and a surprise cameo from a famous A-lister. I won’t spoil who, but for those who know, between this and two other movies, you know the ones, I believe that “movies that the public did not know [name withheld] was in” is starting to become a subgenre in Hollywood.