Unsane

Steven Soderbergh’s most entertaining movie in ages, Unsane follows Claire Foy’s Sawyer Valentini as she’s involuntarily committed to a mental institution and must cope with her newfound surroundings – with problems emerging as Sawyer becomes convinced that one of the staff members (Joshua Leonard) is actually her former stalker. There’s little doubt that Unsane, for much of its first half, comes off as a typically ineffective and uninvolving Soderbergh picture, as the movie progresses at a glacial pace and is rife with decidedly unappealing elements – with the most obvious example of the latter Soderbergh’s decision to shoot the movie on an iPhone. It’s a questionable stylistic choice that does, at the outset, prevent the viewer from connecting to the material on an ongoing basis, with the low-rent, shoddy visuals compounded by a wheel-spinning first act devoid of tension or suspense. Unsane‘s transformation from tedious art-house experiment to riveting thriller, then, is triggered by a mid-movie flashback that provides much-needed context, as the film, beyond that point, progresses briskly through a twist-laden third act overflowing with memorable images and interludes – with, especially, the surprisingly violent climactic stretch ensuring that the whole thing ends on an unexpectedly positive note. The end result is an erratic endeavor that would surely benefit substantially from repeat viewings, and it’s apparent, ultimately, that Soderbergh has delivered a seriously impressive (and increasingly brutal) little horror flick.

***1/2 out of ****

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