Unsane, rated R
Unsane is a disturbing psychological thriller starring Claire Foy of The Crown, that definitely keeps your interest throughout but has some content issues (see below) and needs a better ending.
The film is directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, who last worked together on The Spy Next Door. The film reportedly had a budget of just $1.2 million, and was shot creatively using an iPhone camera, adding to the intensity that the viewer experiences. The viewer has to decide whether the lead character is a victim of a stalker or of mental illness.
Sawyer Valentini, played by Golden Globe winner Claire Foy (The Crown), lived in Boston where she was being stalked by a man named David Strine, played by Joshua Leonard. The two originally met while Sawyer was caring for David’s father as he was dying. David became obsessed with her during that time. Sawyer is traumatized by David, and this has negatively impacted every facet of her life.
To get away from him, she takes a job in Pennsylvania about 450 miles away to start a new life. There however, she has no friends or family, and continues to feel like David is stalking her. After an experience with a date reminds her of her stalker, she realizes that she needs help. She seeks out the help of a counselor at the Highland Creek hospital. After her first session, she completes what she believes and is told is just routine “boilerplate” paperwork, but that paperwork voluntarily commits her to at least a 24 hour stay in the mental health ward.
As can be expected, Sawyer reacts violently to being held against her will and strikes one of the employees, resulting in increasing her time in the hospital to a minimum of seven days.
Sawyer first calls the police and then her mother Angela, played by Oscar nominee Amy Irving (Yentl), pleading with her to get her out of the hospital. Her mother tells her that she will work with lawyers to get her out.
Sawyer meets other patients in the hospital, including an angry and violent Violet, played by Juno Temple, and another who is friendly toward her, Nate, played by Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live). Nate tells her that she is being held as a part of an insurance scam by the hospital.
Sawyer then sees David (her stalker) working in the hospital handing out medication. As we watch the film, we don’t really know if Sawyer is being held against her will, or if she is actually mentally ill. I’ll bet you’ll want to rewrite the ending like we did in order to make it more satisfying – maybe more on the order of The Sixth Sense?
The film earns its “R” rating due to a substantial amount of adult language, including some of a sexual nature, and a few abuses of God’s name. The film also contains a significant amount of violence, tending toward a horror movie genre at times.
Unsane features a strong performance by Claire Foy as Sawyer, as she plays a character very much different from Queen Elizabeth. The film is a disturbing, nightmarish psychological thriller with some content concerns and would certainly not be considered family friendly. By the way, there were some really scary previews that went along with this movie!