Review Unsane by Jonathan Evans


 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Ow my, that is such a bad title! Of all the things that it could have been named, “Insane Asylum”, “Not Insane”, “Sanity Prescription”,”Rational Insanity” those are terrible too but not as bad as the one this movie has been forever stamped with. But I digress, now to talk about the movie.

This movie treads dangerous ground, I don’t just mean that it’s a delicate subject matter to tackle of course it is, but it can go off-course and find itself in misogynistic, women are crazy territory.

First, we move through a dark forest seen through a blue lens. A voice tells us that he loves someone, mostly in blue because that is the color they were wearing when he first saw them, he believes that they are most beautiful in blue. We then see Sawyer, seen from afar, through leaves. She does financial work and does not sugar coat when her clients have bad news. Her boss tells her that her report is airtight and sort of hits on her. When meeting a blind date she takes him home but when intense kissing starts she freaks out and run to her bathroom and locks the door. She googles for support for people affected by stalking.

She takes a drive to Highland Creek and after talking to a doctor about her issues feels a little better. After her talk, she fills out a form to arrange more sessions. Once she passes the form to the clerk she is guided to a room where her personal items are taken away and are asked to remove her clothes. It seems that she should have read the forms more carefully because he’s inadvertently signed herself up for voluntary twenty-four hours of being a patient.

All this is bad enough but when it comes time for her to take her pills she recognises the clerk handing them out, it’s her stalker.

Highland Creek is a regular hospital as you’d expect, with ugly browns and tans and the walls and the floor and there are a few lights in the hallway that don’t work, creating dark shadows.

There is an understanding, that in a movie you either have a simple plot with complex characters, or vice-versa. This is the first option. This movie has other supporting characters around her that are well developed and very well acted and through scenarios and glimpses into what she has gone through we understand how her mind operates and why she is the way she is. She’s not sugar-coated either, she says things that are quite tasteless.

Steven Soderbergh has tackled equally risque material in his previous works (Side Effects). This movie understands that nearly all of the fear comes from losing control, in the beginning, see Sawyer telling people the plain facts regardless of politeness and making the parameters of a date. Now she has been fooled into signing herself up into this hospital and must be told where to go when.

There is no shortage of good acting going on but the main star is obviously the highlight. There are many close-ups that go on for a while, you can see the facade she is putting on, but also the little glimmers of how underneath the surface she is breaking up. Sometimes she lets out the anger and frustration and after she does she’s the one most surprised by it.

The movie is most certainly not for the squeamish or the easily unnerved. It is made by a bold filmmaker with a rock-bottom budget but with that allowed to revel in characters, subject matter, and techniques that would be opposed to him otherwise. I just wish they were able to come up with a better title!

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