Unsane Review – Powerful Psychological Thriller; Shockingly Truthful

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Unsane, from Fingerprint Releasing and Bleecker Street Media, comes a psychological thriller that reaches into a stalker's mind hitting the audience with a volcanic explosion as his target contemplates suicide briefly and seeks mental help only to find herself involuntarily committed.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Unsane stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Amy Irving, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Raul Castillo, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Polly McKie, Zach Cherry, and Gibson Frazier. Unsane was written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer.

Unsane begins with Sawyer Valentini, talking on the phone in her cube, rather abruptly and slightly agitated, so much so that when she is called into the office of her supervisor. It is difficult to discern the mood of the meeting.

As we find out her manager, played by Marc Kudisch, wants to show her how pleased he is with her work and includes a company weekend training session, just the two of them, in the offer.


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Having moved, as we find out through a facetime conversation between Sawyer and her mother, Angela, played by Amy Irving, she has moved 400 miles away from Boston, to Pennsylvania, a great new job, with room for advancement and where no one knows her.

She is also using social media to meet new singles in her area. On this night we see she really wants to have a one night stand and be done with it. She is also a sexual assault survivor and even laying out the rules and feeling okay with the guy, she couldn't go through with it. This incident is a trigger for her and she decides to find a therapist or self-help group, a place she can talk out her feelings without judgements.

The next day she is speaking with Social Worker, played by Myra Lucretia Taylor, who works as the staff counselor at a mental institution. After explaining at length the nature of her depression, she has had a stalker for some time, who has gained access to her home, job, personal information. She felt driven from a city where she had a life and planned to make a life. The list of invasions is all to common and is usually met with the same nonchalant attitude.

She is asked a few very specific questions which center around the number one determining criteria for involuntary psychiatric evaluation is most states which is does she pose a threat or danger to herself or others.

As Sawyer explained at times she does consider suicide an option and explains briefly how she would get the job done. Her specifics, of course, area red flag. She is given a set of forms for what she believes is insurance coverage for this appointment. It isn't until she is preparing to leave that things turn dark.

Suddenly, the white suited orderly's show up and she is escourted to a locked wing, where her purse, phone and personal items are taken, tagged and bagged. Then she is told to disrobe and when she refuses, the nruse, played by Polly McKie, issues a veiled threat of physical violence if she does not comply.

Soon she is locked in the ward, an coed dormintory type room with more patients of varying degrees of mental illnesses. The paranoid, Violet, played by Juno Temple, who in a rage throws her bloody tampon at Sawyer and explains she is going to kill her, than she has a shank right here.

The touchy-feely Jacob, played by Raul Castillo, who touches her arm and explains how he wants to get to know her. She knees him in the groin. Fulfilling the number two determining criteria of involuntary psychiatric evaluation. She also meets Nate Hoffman, played by Jay Pharoah, who is different, and has somehow managed to smuggle a phone into the ward.

Soon it is medicine time and Sawyer trying to maintain calm, when she is lined up to take her medicine and freaks out when she sees the orderly, George Shaw/David Strine, played by Joshua Leonard.

What follows is every persons nightmare. Unsane is numbing. It is a compelling psychological horror story.

Claire Foy leads the all-star cast and she is convincing so much so that until the story is reveled and persuasive evidence to support her account is exposed it is difficult to determine the truth. And that is sad indictment on society.

Joshua Leonard embodies every person's nightmare as his romantic fantasies are squashed which only lead him to prove to his target they are destined. Obtaining items of value through theft he describes how these people so important to you saw our truth and "gave" me these items to help convince you.

People have the right to invite some and not others into their lives. For the disturbed mind the rejection may be too much to handle. Women are generally the target of the stalker and it is a sad truth that as women attempt to work through legal channels law enforcement and authorities find the woman's truth inherently false and the man's story inherently believed.


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Matt Damon shows up as a Boston Detective who explains the disheartening realities of her situation. Joshua Leonard, Amy Irving, Juno Temple and Jay Pharoah give genuine convincing performances.

Unsane captures the attention from the beginning. It is a white-knuckle psychological nightmare of what can happen when the conniving, cunning, devious mind of the stalker attempts to take over someone else's life. The film also highlights the unfortunate realities of judicial intervention and assistance and the business of hospitalization.

Unsane opens March 23, 2018. It is shocking, distressing and traumatic. See it.

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