Opening 29 Mar 2018
Everything is going well, Sawyer (Claire Foy) assures mom: busy, demanding new job, and nicely settling in a new city… “450 miles away,” Angela (Amy Irving) reproachfully adds during their call. Therefore, Sawyer’s abreaction to what should be a pleasant experience propels her to reach out for help. And fall down a rabbit hole that is as terrifying as it is real. Swept along by Highland Creek’s artificial methods, any resistance increases her stay. Some are unable to contain their curiosity, particularly Violet (Juno Temple); Nurse Boles (Polly McKie) and Dr. Hawthorne (Gibson Frazier) seem aloof; only Nate’s (Jay Pharoah) contact serves as a link to Sawyer’s tenuous hold on reality. Given that Sawyer unwittingly comes face-to-face with the terror she is struggling to control. Hanging in hollow air is uncertainty, and her susceptibility: If it is real.
Steven Soderbergh artfully fleshes out Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer’s cunning screenplay by playing with the lead character’s sensibilities. Foy is exceptional, gamely joining in with a performance that radiates subtle psychological vacillations necessary for the film’s shifting theme-genres: drama-cum-mystery-cum-thriller-cum-horror film. Joshua Leonard delivers an insidiously driven character that Pharoah and Temple worthily counter to differing extremes. Shooting on an iPhone adds proximity and atmospheric authenticity to cinematographer Peter Andrews’ (Soderbergh) footage. That Mary Ann Bernard (Soderbergh) then skillfully edits, together with incrementally mixing in Thomas Newman’s sagaciously paced mood-enhancing music, feeding into the ingenious storyline. A moody film that stealthy plays with audiences the inferences are unsettling. Mentally ill or ill mentally, insane or unsane – see Unsane and decide for yourself. (Marinell Haegelin)