Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh is one of those directors whose unconventional style could easily incorporate an iPhone as a working tool. In “Unsane”, a so-so psychological thriller, he has indeed used an iPhone 7 Plus with satisfactory results, yet incapable of beating Sean Baker and his absolutely delightful “Tangerine”.
Hence, there was nothing wrong with the frames captured by Soderbergh here, but the film would have been stronger if the screenplay, penned by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer (“Just My Luck” and “The Spy Next Door”), hadn’t covered so many holes with a viscous absurdity.
Clare Foy is the real star here, impersonating Boston-born, Pennsylvania-based Sawyer Valentini, a psychologically unstable woman who resolves to test her own delusional mind by committing to an obscure program in the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Surrounded by insane people, Sawyer is forced to remain in the center against her will due to a terrible mistake. She also finds out that an old stalker and harasser from Boston, David Strine (Joshua Leonard), is a staff member.
Despite the distressing relationship with her quarrelsome roommate Violet (a Rastafarian-haired Juno Temple), she befriends Nate (Jay Pharoah), a sane patient who lends her his cellphone from time to time and explains to her the center’s fraudulent scheme to collect insurance money at the cost of involuntary patients.
Haunted by demons from a very recent past and having the obsessive David around to control her moves, will Sawyer be able to return to her ‘normal’ life? Can her wealthy mother, Angela (Amy Irving), save her from the hands of a tormentor and the filthy corrupt system that holds her captive?
Many situations are conducted with a comedic touch, sometimes dark and somber, whereas the finale comes wrapped in ferocious brutality. The whole idea, as an experiment, is interesting, but the film lacks in credibility what it gains in boldness. Even pushed to the limit through multiple contrived situations and with limited thrills, there is an urgency to see how things will develop.