- Actors: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins
- Director: Steven Soderbergh
- Writers: Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer
- Producer: Joseph Malloch
- Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
- Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 2
- Rated: R
- Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
- Release Date: June 19, 2018
- Run Time: 99 minutes
Steven Soderbergh is a director as comfortable making popcorn entertainment as he is experimenting with the medium, and sometimes he even accomplishes these two things simultaneously. Having already been one of the innovators of digital cinema, Soderbergh’s decision to shoot Unsane entirely on iPhones is not entirely surprising, although it also runs the risk of being more distraction than asset to the narrative. Even though I respect Soderbergh’s creativity, the approach in this film feels more like a gimmick, which is even more disappointing by the fact that he is not even the first to do this (Academy-Award-nominated Tangerine was also shot on an iPhone in 2015).
Once the distraction of the flat iPhone cinematography is excused, Unsane is an enjoyable piece of pulp cinema. This is the kind of movie that would have been a perfect budget picture in the days of film noir, or a great 70s psychological grindhouse thriller, and it translates surprisingly well in the digital age. Without trying to reinvent the wheel, Soderbergh throws the audience into a situation where sanity can’t be trusted and anything may be a delusion, so that the audience is forced to question the same things as our protagonist.
Fresh off of her success on “The Crown,” Claire Foy stars as Sawyer Valentini, a young woman living in a new city after a traumatic experience with a stalker. She is seeking therapeutic treatment at the Highland Creek Behavioral Center in the form of weekly appointments, but finds herself unwittingly committed after one of these sessions. Suddenly unable to leave, with the medical professionals insisting that her sanity is questionable, Sawyer finds herself in a modern medical nightmare.
As if the situation weren’t anxiety-inducing enough, Sawyer becomes convinced that one of the mental institution’s staffers (Joshua Leonard) is actually her stalker, carrying out a complex plan to get her alone and helpless. This theory only makes her sound even more crazy, as well as introducing some doubt of her sanity to the audience. Fortunately, at least one of the other patients Jay Pharoah) believes Sawyer, and is willing to help her try and find a way out.
Although I tend not to be a fan of films that play with the question of the protagonist’s sanity, Unsane does a good job of keeping that mystery alive. It is a small and simple film in a lot of ways, but that is also where it excels. Even if Foy is becoming more recognizable, she is not a major movie star and that helps sell the grittiness of the material. The flip-side of this can be seen in Matt Damon’s brief cameo, which takes away from the otherwise low budget feel of the film. I still don’t think this movie needed to be shot on phones, but it was a wise choice to refrain from casting big names and recognizable faces once that decision was made.
The 4K release of Unsane also comes with a Blu-ray and Digital copy of the film. Both the Blu-ray and the 4K disc have special features included on the disc along with the movie. Unfortunately, there is only one extra, and that is a behind-the-scenes featurette which is less than five-minutes long. In terms of the actual 4K presentation of the film, while it does enhance the colors and improve the sharpness of the image, I also don’t think it is at all necessary for this type of film. Even polished, the visuals of Unsane are only going to look so good. The film is also available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 3/10
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