Unsane is a 2018 American psychological horror film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer. The film stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Matt Damon, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, and Amy Irving, and follows a woman confined to a mental institution after she is pursued by a stalker. The film was shot entirely on the iPhone 7 Plus.
|Directed by||Steven Soderbergh|
|Produced by||Joseph Malloch|
(as Peter Andrews)
|Edited by||Steven Soderbergh|
(as Mary Ann Bernard)
|Music by||David Wilder Savage|
|Box office||$14.3 million|
Unsane had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 21, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United States on March 23, 2018, by Bleecker Street and Soderbergh's production company Fingerprint Releasing. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $14 million on a budget of $1.5 million. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who mainly praised the performances, direction, cinematography and production values.
This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (March 2021)
Sawyer Valentini is a troubled woman who moves away from her home in Boston to escape a stalker. Upon moving, she gets an upwardly-mobile high-powered "dream" job at a bank. Sawyer finds she is still triggered by interactions with men as a result of her stalking trauma. She makes an appointment with a counselor at Highland Creek Behavioral Center. At her appointment, she unknowingly signs a consent form for voluntary 24-hour admission to a locked psychiatric hospital. She calls the police but they do nothing when they see the signed form. During the night, her extreme stress of the situation causes Sawyer to lash out through physical altercations with a patient and a staff member. As a result, the staff psychiatrist says she is being kept for seven more days.
Another patient, Nate Hoffman, gives Sawyer an introduction to the place. Highland Creek is running a scheme to milk health insurance claims for profit. They trick people into voluntarily committing themselves as long as the patients' insurance companies continue to pay; when insurance claims run out, the patient is "cured" and immediately released. One day, Sawyer sees David Strine, her stalker, working as an orderly under the assumed name George Shaw. She has an outburst and is restrained. Her outbursts result in the repeated use of restraints and sedation.
Nate has a secret cell phone, and Sawyer uses it to call her mother, Angela, who attempts to get her out; Sawyer reveals to her mother for the first time about having been stalked, and explains that David is at the hospital. David intentionally gives Sawyer a large dose of methylphenidate, causing her to become violent and disoriented. That evening, he convinces Angela, who had never seen him before, that he is a hotel employee, and gains entrance to her room.
David sees Sawyer and Nate together and feels threatened. He knocks Nate unconscious and takes him to the basement, where he tortures him with a defibrillator before killing him with an overdose of fentanyl. When they find Nate's body, the staff conclude that Nate's overdose was a result of his drug addiction as Nate had been in the hospital's opioid addiction treatment program. Sawyer finds Nate's phone under her pillow, with images of Nate badly beaten. She tries to alert the staff, but they view her reaction as nonsense and put her in a padded solitary confinement cell.
David visits Sawyer in the cell and says he has a secluded mountain cabin he wants to take Sawyer to. Sawyer mocks him for his obvious inexperience with women. David later returns and reveals he has changed information to make it appear that Sawyer's insurance ran out, leading the administration to think she has been discharged. Elsewhere, outside the hospital, the body of the real George Shaw is found in the woods.
Looking for a way out, Sawyer feigns concern that David is a virgin, and that she does not want to be his first. She convinces David to have sex with another woman to prove that he will only want Sawyer after losing his virginity. Sawyer suggests Violet, another patient who previously threatened Sawyer with a shank, and he brings her to the solitary confinement cell. Sawyer uses Violet's shank to stab David in the neck and flees as he kills Violet. He recaptures Sawyer outside, and she wakes up in the trunk of his car next to her mother's corpse.
Sawyer jumps from the trunk of the moving car and flees into the woods with David in pursuit. Meanwhile, the news reveals that Nate was an undercover journalist sent to Highland Creek to investigate the rumors of people being committed against their will. David catches Sawyer and breaks her ankle with a hammer. Still armed with Violet's shank as well as a cross from her mother's necklace, she stabs him in the eye with the cross and fatally slashes his throat with the shank.
The police execute a warrant on the center and in so doing discover Violet's body and Nate's notebook detailing the criminal activities within the hospital. They arrest the hospital administrator. Six months later, while at lunch with a coworker, Sawyer thinks she sees David sitting in the restaurant. She approaches him armed with a knife, but upon realizing it is not him drops the knife runs away, realizing that due to David's violations, perhaps her sanity is now truly in question.
- Claire Foy as Sawyer Valentini
- Joshua Leonard as David Strine/George Shaw, Sawyer's stalker
- Jay Pharoah as Nate Hoffman, Sawyer's friend at the institution
- Juno Temple as Violet, a patient of the institution who antagonizes Sawyer
- Gibson Frazier as Dr. Hawthorne, Sawyer's psychiatrist
- Aimee Mullins as Ashley Brighterhouse, head of the institution
- Amy Irving as Angela Valentini, Sawyer's mother
- Polly McKie as Nurse Boles, head nurse at the institution
- Zach Cherry as Denis, a new employee of the institution
- Sarah Stiles as Jill, a coworker of Sawyer's whom she dislikes
- Matt Damon as Detective Ferguson, a detective who advises Sawyer
- Raúl Castillo as Jacob
- Mike Mihm as Steve
- Robert Kelly as Steve's Partner
- Colin Woodell as Mark
In July 2017, it was announced Steven Soderbergh had shot a film in secret, in June 2017, starring Claire Foy and Juno Temple. The film was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus in 4K using the app FiLMiC Pro, and was released through Soderbergh's Fingerprint Releasing banner. In August 2017, Jay Pharoah confirmed that he was a co-star in the film.
Unsane has grossed $7.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $14.2 million.
In the United States and Canada, Unsane was released alongside Pacific Rim: Uprising, Midnight Sun, Sherlock Gnomes and Paul, Apostle of Christ, and was projected to gross $3 million from 2,023 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $3.7 million, finishing 11th at the box office. In its second weekend the film made $1.4 million, a 61.6% drop.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 236 reviews, and an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Unsane unleashes Steven Soderbergh's inner B-movie maestro, wading into timeless psychological thriller territory and giving it a high-tech filmmaking spin." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Richard Brody from The New Yorker wrote "Above all, [Soderbergh] revels, with palpable joy, in his repertory of distorted, disturbing, lurid yet lucid images, making a furious movie that signifies nothing but the irrepressible vitality of the cinema itself. Soderbergh's experiment is a success." Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Soderbergh is one of the most dexterous directors working in the American mainstream, and he has a sly talent for lacing even a seemingly disposable genre offering with smart, incisive ideas."
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