Review of Unsane
By: Jason Bechard

Hey, I Watched This! Reviewing Movies I've watched recently.

Oh, hey! I didn't see you there! Welcome back!

I got a good one for you this month, so let's get to it!

This months film is Unsane (2018).

Written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, who are previously known for family friendly rom-coms like Just My Luck (2006) and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006). Directed by Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean's trilogy, Magic Mike, Behind the Candelabra, and a bunch of other good flicks). Starring Claire Foy (Netflix's The Crown, The Girl in the Spider's Web) and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project, TV's Scorpion).

Here is the IMDB synopsis, "A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is confronted by her greatest fear--but is it real or a product of her delusion?"

I am going to try VERY hard to avoid spoilers for this one.

Right off the bat, this flick looks different. What I mean is, the actual look of this film does not look quite as polished, as you would expect from a standard "Hollywood" film. Then I read some trivia for this film. Soderbergh shot this entire film, in 4K, using an iPhone 7 Plus! An amazing feat, considering it looks really really good, and the "unpolished" aspect I mentioned lends itself well to the presentation of the story. At times it almost feels like a cross between found footage, and documentary styles which really makes for a neat visual experience.

The story plays out with a nice balance, keeping you guessing if it's real or delusion, but not dragging things out to the very end for a clear resolution. So often, with films that deal with possible mental delusions, they leave things to the very end, and a lot of times, they leave things clearly unanswered, which is fine, sometimes. It's ok to leave the audience guessing, or to let them fill in the blanks from their imagination, but this does tend to get overplayed, and I, for one, get tired of being left with cinematic "blue balls". This film gives a clear story, with clear answers, and nothing left hanging, and it works nicely. Sure, there may be a few small plot issues. Maybe some implausibility on a couple of small points, but hey, it's a work of fiction not a true story. Given some of the craziness in the news everyday, I'd say 95% believable, and that's not bad!

Claire Foy plays Sawyer, the lead role, and she delivers a great performance. She balances Sawyer's strong independence, with her utter fear of her possible delusion. She plays the characters reactions to their situation with a real believability that really works for me. She was amazing, which is no surprise, given what I have heard about her, coming from The Crown. Joshua Leonard plays an orderlie, George Shaw, who becomes the target of Sawyer's "delusion". As the plot progresses, Leonard's performance becomes more and more ominous, with a splash of heartbroken desperation, and again, it's a believable performance. I think I have made my stance pretty clear, when it comes to dramatic performances. If an actor's portrayal is believable to me, in the context of the story they are presenting, that scores high marks in my book, and this film's cast does just that. Which brings me to the man who's supporting role in this film is what actually brought this film to my attention. Jay Pharoah. Known for his stand-up comedy, a former cast member on SNL, and widely known for his spot on impressions of many pop culture figures (Kanye West, Eddie Murphy, Barack Obama). Pharoah practically steals the show as Nate Hoffman, another patient at the hospital, dealing with an opioid addiction, who befriends Sawyer, and tries to help her cope with her situation. It's an understated performance, with very very small hints of his funny side. He carries himself with the confidence of a man who has been in the institution a while, and has it all figured out. Not cocky, just matter of fact. He's seen it all, and knows how to go with the flow, to make life comfortable on the "inside". Given Pharoah's previously known skill set, I was expecting a "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", over the top impression heavy, crazy performance, but was pleasantly surprised to see a truly remarkable dramatic performance. As I said earlier, he almost steals the show. I really hope we get to see more of this side of Jay Pharoah, because I think he could surprise a lot of people with his acting chops!

Overall, this film really is a total package. An interesting visual presentation, using non-traditional techniques, with a solid and intriguing story, that is completely unpredictable, and acting performances that are surprising and believable. A TRIFECTA of good film-making, which can be hard to find sometimes.

I give Unsane (2018) 5 stars! I, highly, HIGHLY, recommend this flick.

See you next time folks.

Please, feel free to leave any comments, questions, or suggestions, down below! I'd love to hear from you!

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