Um… “unsane” in not a word, yo! … … … *one Google search later* “Unsane” is totally a word, yo! Yeah, it’s a word. But thankfully, it’s a very old word and not commonly said by native English speakers. As in, I’m a native English speaker, I’ve neither heard this word said by human vocal chords, nor have I seen it in writing… at least, not until this movie came out. As I understand it, “unsane” is essentially a more formal, less offensive version of “insane.” I don’t know, man, I’m just reading this shit off of Google. I’m not doing homework for this movie.
The story looks like it’s a woman who once had to deal with a stalker, but despite the incident being behind her, she still sees his face sometimes when she’s out and about. Seeing a doctor, she finds herself at a crazy house that’s supposed to be for the clinically insane, which she isn’t, and eventually finds that she can’t leave due to some contractual agreement she signed, and is now trying to get herself out any way that she can.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Claire Foy, known for THE LADY IN THE VAN (2016), and upcoming films FIRST MAN (2018) and THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB (2018). In support, we have Amy Irving (HIDE AND SEEK , THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 , CARRIE , and the upcoming CONFETTI ) and Juno Temple (WONDER WHEEL , BLACK MASS , MALEFICENT , and the upcoming THE PRETENDERS ).
Now for the crew, which looks to be a short list. Directing, editing, and doing the cinematography is Steven Soderbergh, known for LOGAN LUCKY (2017), THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (2009), OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001), and the upcoming HIGH FLYING BIRD (2019). Co-writing the screenplay are Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, both known for THE SPY NEXT DOOR (2010) and LARRY THE CABLE GUY: HEALTH INSPECTOR (2006). This movie, apparently, has no score.
Overall, I don’t think I’m going to like this. It looks like it’s just going to try too hard to be weird and psychological, therefore make a ton of dumb moments that I just have a weird feeling that this movie will have. I mean, look at the writers, man! An unpopular Jackie Chan movie and a Larry the Cable Guy movie? You can’t convince me that these men know how to write psychological thrillers. Here’s to hoping that I get proven wrong.
This is my honest opinion of: UNSANE
Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) was once a victim of stalking, but still suffers from still seeing him, even if she rationally knows he’s not there, as she has moved from city to another. However, unable to bear the visions anymore, she seeks out a therapist. She is weirdly enough prescribed to a mental clinic where the staff hold her against her will, finding reasons to keep her there as she desperately tries to escape.
Ugh, I can’t stand this movie.
The first thing that people will notice is the very strange cinematography. Not that I know cinematography very well, which is why I don’t often talk about it unless it’s positively mind-blowing, but the best way I can describe this movie is that you’re watching it like you’re watching a movie made with a spy-cam… or through an empty glass soda bottle. Either way, this is apparently license for the filmmakers to give us an endless barrage of extreme close-ups of everyone’s mug. Stop trying to feed me to Claire Foy, movie! As a result, this flick induces a headache that I don’t experience unless I’m playing a first-person shooting video game. Through ninety percent of this movie, I’m clutching the side of my temple.
UPDATE: I just found out that the entire movie was filmed on an iPhone 7 Plus. I assume this is why the cinematography is weird.
Ultimately, this movie is incredibly hard to get into because of the sheer amount of stupid that’s littered throughout the story. The idea is there. The movie essentially comes right out and says that she’s not actually crazy and she’s only trapped there because the orderlies force reasons to keep her locked up. But here’s the problem, there are so many problems that I probably couldn’t count them all. But this is my blog, so I’m going to make that attempt. Hope you’ve got some time to kill, folks!
When Sawyer first arrives at the institute, she’s led to a doctor’s room, the nurse locks the door from the inside, and tells her to strip down to her underwear. Sawyer not only barely resists, but her attempt to leave in defiance is this: grab the handle, jiggle it… and give up. Yeah, she makes no attempt to unlock the door, which is RIGHT THERE!!! This door isn’t locked by a key, or a number code, or anything. It’s a standard nob that you need to turn and then open. But she completely gives up and it’s almost hilarious how little effort was put into her escape. To make matters worse, she complies to every request. She gives her purse to be inspected and her belongings in a ziplock bag. She strips down to her skivvies and never makes a single attempt to run for the exit and find the cops, or anyone for help. She literally does nothing but play their game for no earthly reason. Her compliant actions would be better suited after realizing the well-crafted prison that has been made for her and that’s when she has to start thinking outside the box to get out.
Even when she starts to understand how the game works, she only ever makes matters worse for herself. She’s short-tempered, gets violent with people, both the other patients and the orderlies, screaming that she’s not crazy in an environment that would only use this behavior against her, Sawyer is too fucking stupid for her own good. Much of this was starting to remind me of MOTHER! (2017), where the character makes such passive and borderline inhuman decisions that it doesn’t feel like it’s even real. Yes, yes, I’m sure many people will come up to be about MOTHER! and want to discuss that, but that’s a topic for another time. The point I’m making is if I’m comparing this movie with MOTHER!, then the movie done fucked up in some way.
Not that I’m an expert on law, but I have a sinking feeling that some creative liberties were taken. If a woman comes in to the police station and says that her daughter is being held against her will in a mental institute, the cops aren’t just going to say, “You need proof,” and do nothing about it. They’d have to investigate themselves, get the medical records that Sawyer had signed, if not from the police, then certainly from family, and be able to take this information to a judge, who will decide on the next course of action. In retrospect, this movie should only be a half hour long.
The relationship between Sawyer and her mom, Angela (Amy Irving) feels a little unbalanced. In the beginning, when they’re Facetiming on their phones, they seem like they have a standard functioning relationship. But when we see them for the first time in the institution, we get some rather clunky exposition about how when Sawyer’s father died, she threw up walls and became distant from everyone, including her mom. But… that doesn’t seem to add up. We never really saw her act like she was throwing up walls because of losing her dad. Maybe a little distant because, if I remember correctly, Angela said that Sawyer moved on the other side of the country and tried to subtly make it a guilt trip, but I assumed that was due to the stalking. I just wouldn’t have guessed that was the reason that conversation came up.
This movie totes itself as a psychological horror, and judging from the trailers, that’s exactly what the audience should have gotten. The problem is, if the story was about the question of whether or not Sawyer really is crazy or not, then the “psychological” part would have a better meaning. But because we’re told early on that Sawyer isn’t crazy and all of this is an insurance scam that she doesn’t handle well. Had the movie kept with this concept, then the weird camera on the iPhone would be more effective. As it is, it’s just weird cinematography that induces headaches for nearly no reason.
Once everything comes to a head, and it’s revealed that the orderly that’s been impersonating a doctor, is indeed Sawyer’s stalker, David Strine (Joshua Leonard). But once again, she handles everything poorly. He offers her the chance to come with him to live in his cabin in the woods, insert Joss Whedon or Sam Raimi jokes here, by fudging some paperwork and sneak her out. But instead of lying to his face, agreeing and hightailing it away from him the moment she’s outside, she challenges him on what love really means. She then hatches this overly complicated plan to get him to bring Violet (Juno Temple) to her cell to steal her shived out spoon and cut him up, which leads to him surviving and kidnapping her when she doesn’t run very far. All she had to do was lie, put on a good show, get out of the institute, and run. That would have solved everything. Not to mention, it’s a little fucked up that Sawyer would tell David to essentially rape Violet to lose his virginity, proving her love for her, or whatever the hell that shit was. Granted, Sawyer didn’t intend to let her get raped, but she still involved someone innocent of this situation for a far weaker reason that her alternate options.
But before anyone goes and thinks that I hate this flick, there are a few good qualities.
Arguably, my favorite character in this movie is Angela. She seems like she’s the only one that actually goes around trying her damnedest to get help, despite the bullshit real-world logic that isn’t applied to this movie. She’s worried, she’s enraged, she stonewalls the orderlies until she sees her daughter. She goes to the police, a lawyer, she does everything in her power to do what she has to do, unlike her dumb-ass daughter. And as much as I dislike Sawyer and her ability to be, you know, smart, I admit that I think Foy does a great job. She really sells her frustrations, hopelessness, anger, seething bitterness, creating a potentially complex character. Too bad Sawyer is such a dumb-shit, otherwise it’d be a great role for Foy. Oh, and hello, Matt Damon! Yeah, random of randoms, Damon has a brief role as an inspector of sorts in a flashback scene where he instructs Sawyer on how to prevent a stalker from breaking into her home. He is arguably the best part of this movie, if only for the fact that Damon makes everything okay.
Overall, this movie was really hard to watch. Literally. The camerawork caused me to look away from the screen just to catch my bearings. Even 3D movies don’t get that reaction out of me. But more than that, I don’t think the writing was very clever, culminating into dumb-ass characters, a story that feels like the idea was the only thing that mattered and no logic was incorporated, and seriously, a whole lot of headaches. The acting is fine, and Damon always puts a smile on my face, but without well-written characters to back up the talent, it just comes off as awkward. I do not recommend this movie, either in theaters, or as a rental. It’s not an “avoid like the plague” or anything, but I don’t think anyone’s going to get anything out of it. Give it a month, I don’t think I’m going to remember it. Good: is it, or isn’t it? Um… no, not really.
My honest rating for UNSANE: a weak 3/5