Itchy, edgy experimental thriller Discuss this article

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Navigating through a mad, fast-changing world is something Claire Foy does well; she’s shown us as much on The Crown. Now she repeats the trick in Unsane, a scrappy, shot-on-an-iPhone thriller elevated by Foy’s steely exterior.

She plays a businesswoman, Sawyer, who is committed to a mental health ward after some insurance company sleight-of-hand. Following the genre template of Shock Corridor and Shutter Island, she befriends a fellow patient (Jay Pharoah) and crosses swords with another (an intense Juno Temple). But in a canny twist, she also comes face-to-face with a kindly nurse who she swears is the dangerous man that’s been stalking her for years. Cue the gaslighting.

The script is marred by faulty trip wires and too many clichés, while director Steven Soderbergh, Hollywood’s restless alchemist, is interested in the plot only as a means of experimenting with style. Filming on a smartphone drains any slickness away while giving it a nervy, disorientating kick. There’s a palpable sense of a filmmaker at play, not least when he chucks in one of his Ocean’s Eleven stars for a surprise cameo (we won’t ruin it).

Realising that some of cinema’s greatest turns are in B movies, he’s created another vehicle for Foy’s ferocious presence. She never stoops to a pat depiction of female victimhood, instead inviting us to see the rigged world through her whirlpool eyes.
While its crazy plot and unique camera technique and technology may not appeal to everyone, Unsane has a sense of originality about it, potentially making it a cult classic in the years to come.

The bottom line
Itchy, edgy experimental thriller.

By Joe McGovern
Time Out Doha,


  • Duration: 98
  • Released: Thu, 26 Apr
  • Language: English
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Stars: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah

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