A few years ago, a film called ‘Tangerine’ broke barriers within cinema by being entirely filmed on an iPhone. ‘Unsane’ follows the same technique and the tone of the film suits this filming style perfectly. The extreme close ups and the distant, creepy following shots are just a part of what makes this such an unnatural but uniquely enthralling cinematic experience.
We follow Sawyer (Claire Foy) who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution and is convinced her stalker is there with her. As time progresses, certain moments present themselves that make her question if everything is real or just a figment of her imagination. The mystery is one that has been done many times, but what really stands out is how it genuinely keeps us guessing which way it’s veering towards, in fact, until it was all revealed, my mind kept switching after every scene.
The extreme close ups and the distant, creepy following shots are just a part of what makes this such an unnatural but uniquely enthralling cinematic experience.
Foy’s Sawyer is in almost every scene so it’s imperative that her performance holds everything together. Her switch between anger, confusion, violence and distraught throughout are stunning and she keeps the mystery of what’s real and what’s not very much alive. It’s a really impressive performance and will probably end up being one of the most underappreciated of the entire year. Joshua Leonard is also wonderful and insanely creepy as David Strine, Sawyer’s stalker (or is that “stalker”?). Whether or not his actions are real, they will leave an impact on you. At times, his presence is enough to send chills down your spine.
While the central performances are outstanding, the cinematography is what makes this film click. The extreme close ups reminded me how ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ utilised it on Clarice’s face. It made conversations feel invasive and super personal. What also allowed the tension to build was the unusual camera angles used on the simplest of scenes. The opening of a bathroom mirror shouldn’t keep you on edge as much as it does. This is all thanks to the bewildering attitude of the filming.
I really liked this film. It grabbed my attention and didn’t let go from the offset. While there will be some who can’t get on board with the way it’s filmed, ‘Unsane’ takes its concept and runs with it wholeheartedly. A really solid script is made even better by brilliant performances but mainly thanks to the weird and wonderful cinematography.
There’s one more point I wanted to make about a pretty surprising moment. Click below to reveal. (Minor spoilers follow)