Sometimes a skilled director can elevate material that would otherwise be routine.  This is not the case with Unsane, a movie directed by Steven Soderbergh that aims for psychological drama but is pretty superficial.

Sawyer (Claire Foy) is a young, independent woman with a good job in the city.  When she freaks out during a date, she looks up victims of stalking online and takes a trip to a mental institution.  She fills out some "standard" forms, talks to a therapist -- and finds herself involuntarily committed there for seven days.
Sawyer wants to get out as soon as possible, but her tendency to get in fights (sometimes physically) with the other patients and the staff makes this unlikely.  She befriends patient Nate (Jay Pharoah), who advises her to keep her head down and let the seven days pass quickly; he also has an illegal cell phone, which Sawyer uses to keep in tough with the outside world.
Sawyer really freaks out when she sees employee David Strine (Joshua Leonard), who Sawyer is convinced is her stalker, a man who traveled several states to follow her and kept harassing her at her work and home.  No one believes her, though, and she has no evidence that David is anything other than another worker at the mental institution.  Is Sawyer insane?  Is David playing a long and deadly game?  Does it matter that Unsane was shot entirely with an iPhone?  (The answer to the last question is no.)

Unsane is a disappointment.  While protagonists don't have to be perfect, Claire Foy doesn't give us much to make us root for Sawyer, even when everything seems to be stacked against her.  (Nate says she's in her situation because healthcare tricks patients into being committed for as long as their insurance will pay for it.)  The is-she-or-isn't-she-insane isn't that interesting, and it eventually degenerates into grindhouse-level luridness.  And Soderbergh can't do anything to improve any of this.  Unsane is a big disappointment.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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