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Non-Review Review: Unsane

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Unsane is off the wall.

The movie simply should not work, by just about any conceivable measure. Unsane is at once a conspiracy thriller criticism of the hypercapitalist impulses of the American healthcare system and a self-aware trashy nineties psychothriller about a young professional woman who may or may not be dealing with a stalker, all shot on an iPhone. It is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Single White Female meets Tangerine. It is astounding that the film works as well as it does, that Unsane remains compelling and engaging even as it careens off the tracks.

A large part of this is down to a fantastic central performance by Claire Foy, who holds the thematically loopy and surreal adventure together through sheer force of will. Unsane subjects its protagonist to a cavalcade of horrors and twists, any one of which blatantly absurd upon even the most cursory of examinations. However, Foy anchors the film in a compelling and engaging central performance to manages to keep the audience both off-balance and sympathetic at the same time. It is a deft (and impressive) balancing act.

Similarly, writer and director Steven Soderbergh also deserves a great deal of credit for keeping Unsane from completely unspooling. For all the chaos and absurdity of the film, for all the tonal shifts and weird contrivances, for all the trashy genre tropes and gonzo plotting, it never feels like Unsane escapes its director. Soderbergh walks a fine line, producing a film that veers wildly and unpredictably, while also seeming to know exactly what it is doing. The result is bizarre, but engaging. It might be too much to describe Unsane as good, but it is good fun.

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