Unsane (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Unsane</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) The really nice thing about writer/director Steven Soderbergh announcing and then renouncing his retirement from moviemaking is the growing conviction that he’s now doing movies for the fun of it—that as a formal experimenter, he’s now free to take on projects because they sound cool, or because they push the envelope of what he wants to do. For instance, shooting a movie using an iPhone. In that context, Unsane is far more interesting than if you’d see it completely cold: At the surface, it feels amateurish, off-setting, simplistic, even far-fetched. In-context, however, it’s a Research and Development effort in greatly simplifying filmmaking—moving fast and using cheap equipment, but informing it with a strong filmmaking artistic intention. Soderbergh isn’t the first filmmaker to shoot a studio-level feature using a cell phone—that would be Sean Baker’s Tangerine—but Unsane is meant to be a relatively accessible thriller for multiplex distribution rather than an arthouse favourite. I can’t say that the experiment is completely successful—the paranoia is cranked up beyond believability, and the nature of the iPhone cameras means that the image does look quite a bit different from what we’re used to—the field of depth alone is a bit disorienting. As a very technical director with considerable cinematography experience, Soderbergh is obviously aware of those issues: the film is mean to make audiences uneasy with a form that follows function. The warped off-kilter perspective reflects the warped worldview of the lead character as she is trapped in an asylum, convinced that she’s being hounded by an obsessive stalker. Unsane doesn’t have a complicated story, but it’s well told thanks to Soderbergh verve behind the camera—or in this case, the phone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *