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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Mar. 26, 2018 3 years ago

'Unsane' is a disappointing borefest that could have been a decent thriller

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Not even a unique filming method and a Matt Damon cameo could save Steven Soderbergh's new film.

Is she or isn't she? is the tagline for director Steven Soderbergh's new film, "Unsane." It's inviting enough but doesn't provide much substance to really even care when all is said and done.

When Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) seeks psychiatric help after having moved to a new city to escape a stalker (Joshua Leonard), she's made a big mistake. Trying to be candid with the therapist, Sawyer admits to having had suicidal thoughts in the past. After the session, she signs what she believes to be an agreement to continue therapy. Actually, Sawyer has signed a commitment agreement and is carted off to a "Cuckoo's Nest." 

 

The film has already created a major credibility gap. Sawyer is an extremely young woman with a prestigious job who would clearly examine any contract she signs. And when she lands in an open ward where men and women sleep unattended, it just doesn't jive. The harder Sawyer tries to prove she does not belong in this hell hole, the deeper she digs herself into it. Her Mother (Amy Irving) tries to help, as does a fellow patient (Jay Pharoah), to no avail. It seems that insurance companies are the real culprits, having come up with a scheme to make money off of individuals who have no power to fight.

Really? It's pretty lame stuff for a renown Oscar recipient such as Soderbergh ("Traffic" "Erin Brockovich") to tackle. There's no psychological thrilling or complexity of characters going on in this borefest. What could have been a cringe-at-every-turn nightmare is, frankly, a snoozer. By the way, Soderbergh films solely with an iPhone, which bodes well for extreme close-ups, but that in itself can't save this disappointing film.

The performances are solid, especially Claire Foy's. Juno Temple is maniacally menacing as a messed-up patient and Polly McKie's portrayal of a nurse Ratched is welcomely discomforting. Matt Damon's surprising cameo as a detective manages to brighten the pace, but not for long.

"Unsane" loses steam early on and limps to a final scene meant to provoke gasps...much like the one in "Misery." It doesn't. When Sawyer realizes her shocking dilemna, she screams, "This is all a terrible mistake." Which accurately sums up the entire "Unsane" experience. 

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