3 1/2 (out of 4)
If women didn’t turn out in droves to support the practically all-female Annihilation, I doubt that even a film that has its foot firmly in the ideological territory of the #metoo and #timesup movements will get the attention it deserves. Regardless of box office numbers I'm sure Steven Soderbergh – who has nearly 30 films under his belt – kept his budget exceptionally low this time around by shooting his latest film Unsane on an iPhone 7 Plus.
But apart from the filmmaking gimmick like 2014's Tangerine, the film features one early Apple plug before completely adjusting its story to the granular texture, reduced motion blur of serviceable, pocket-size digital quality, and its a general format he's committed to for the better part of the millennia. As an experiment in lo-fi, Unsane is ultimately aided by the peculiarity of its visual grain – the aesthetic is both appropriately claustrophobic and unrestrained simultaneously given the portability of the camera source.
Apart from his digital inclinations, Soderbergh's chilling new psychological horror-thriller is also much more than its feminist themes. Unsane vigorously attempts to scrub clean the idea that men, with enough effort, can get exactly what they want from female of their interest. Hollywood has a long history of often teaching men that no doesn't always mean no; in handling a paranoia/stalker premise, Unsane looks at the pain of not being believed both in terms of sanity and safety from sexual abuse and assault. All that while also serving up strong words for the health insurance sector.
Just within the current decade Soderbergh's output has been some of the strongest of his career – Contagion, Haywire, Magic Mike, Side Effects, and most recently Logan Lucky are all superb gems, and Unsane is no exception to the collection of taut mini-masterworks. Though another departure always seems in the midst, like we were all saying six months ago, please don't retire Steven.
To keep it brief...
Sorry to Bother You,
Leave No Trace
the first installment of a monthly series:
The Absolute State of /tv/