You may think that red, yellow and blue mixed together is going to make a beautiful rainbow, until you look down and see dumpster tea brown.
Reported on 7th of September, 2018

It would be easy to criticize Unsane for the hatred of woman. It’s easy, but it’s easier to be contrary, so instead I’ll say this: the film is misogynist by default. What interests me is not that misogyny makes bad films (usually, but not necessarily), but the way in which the disastrous collision of conflicting genres by incompetence reveals a background noise of ‘Women? eww!’


14 July 2018 @ The Gaumont Rennes

-$12.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

§  §  §


There are three movies in Unsane, none of which land, but all of which have done in the past. Unreliable Narrator (Angel Heart, Usual Suspects), exposé (The Big Short, and Soderberg’s own Erin Brokovich) and Thriller (Countless, including Soderberg’s own spectacular Out of Sight. Come to think of it, Countless might be a good title, so we’ll just say Countless).

An unreliable narrator is absolutely fine. An unreliable narrator as a woman is fine as well, Repulsion is a brilliant case in point. An unreliable narrator as a woman being stalked is as problematic as the use of the word ‘problematic’, and anyone who uses it. Even in quotes.

And as the film struggles through its identity crises, the weird and not a little bit disturbing misogyny bubbles to the surface like an Keene painted over a Turner. I don't know why it's bubbling up. I guess it was in a swamp. A swamp that would trap a man! Women are full of fluids or something!

Problematicism to the side, it just flounders as a film. You may think that red, yellow and blue mixed together is going to make a beautiful rainbow, until you look down and see dumpster soup brown. If it’s an exposé (and a potentially interesting one) of the new trend of committing people for the insurance scam, we can’t know that until it’s established if Ms. Claire Foy is actually crazy.

If it’s a thriller, we can’t care if she’s in danger because we don’t know what’s real. Repulsion negotiated this by making the central character a danger to herself. In the combination of is she or is she not crazy, we’re faced with two possibilities, neither good. One, that the stalker is real. which is a massive coincidence, being that Mr. Joshua Leonard got employed at mental health clinic just in case Ms. Foy went crazy and got committed there. Two that he is not, which is boring.

That’s not fair. They’re both boring.

I’m I bit sad they don’t tear the tickets anymore, just scan them. It takes up more room in the scrapbook!

When the film finally does conclude at the end what it is (a thriller), we run into an interesting variant of the I(S)Q problem. In horror films, stupid characters are not just de rigeur, but obligatory. They go into the basements are their stupidity is rewarded by our joy that we’re not that stupid.

Thrillers require smart characters for the empathy, but more importantly require a smart universe. Having not known what’s going on, there is much about how Mr. Joshua Leonard is or isn’t his stalker. Did he change his name or…

Sorry. Fell asleep just remembering. Have to keep that in mind for those anxiety attack nights.

…or is it some innocent guy? But here’s what I learned. I(S)Q must also apply to the universe. If there’s a character writing an exposé for the paper about pay-for-play mental health clinics, the paper will notice when he dies in murderous circumstances. If you take out a restraining order against someone, the police will have a record of that. If was fun in 1761 where you could tell the Bow Street Runners that that was some other guy named Harold Smith, but by 1762 they caught on and started using a very expensive portrait artist for the mug shots.

Just ignore that this would make a better movie. Anything would.

And as the film struggles through its identity crises, the weird and not a little bit disturbing misogyny bubbles to the surface like an Keene painted over a Turner. I don’t know why it’s bubbling up. I guess it was in a swamp. A swamp that would trap a man! Women are full of fluids or something!

The title – Macfuggin, or, possibly, if we’re being Celt-correct, MacFuggin – might be an exclamation when reaching the fifth implausibility of a film. It is, however, something I mistyped in the dark when trying to write ‘Macguffin’.

In this case it was during a very unfortunate – and unfortunately long – scene wherein Ms. Foy must convince Mr. Leonard that she really is in love with him, saying, ‘I don’t think you wanted me to hate you. I think you wanted me to notice you.’ Eww, but that’s not the gross part.

In order to demonstrate that Mr. Leonard loves Ms. Foy, he has to lose his virginity. Of course. How must he do this? I’m really depressed that you asked. It seems he must kidnap Ms. Juno Temple and rape her in front of Ms. Foy.

As the yuckiness mounts, it is revealed – implausibly even for this mess – that this was a ruse to get the shiv in Ms. Temple’s belt, whereupon I typed ‘THAT’S your Macguffin? A shiv in the belt???? Couldn’t she do ANYTHING else?’. Whereupon Ms. Temple is killed to either mount up the ‘tension’, and at some point, during a close-up of Ms. Foy while in the middle of a forest, Mr. Leonard appears from behind, as if from nowhere!!!


Yeah. It works.

The Take

At the beginning, when I didn’t know what it was, Mr. Soderberg’s semi-realist low-budget grab it while you can style did provide some atmosphere.
Total Profits
Then I realized, the film didn’t know what it was either.
Two characters
Ms. Foy – One of the few cases where a normal character, instead of a deliberately unpleasant one, would work better. Her acting out and making it worse for herself comes off like prolonging the story.
Mr. Leonard – Likewise, he has no endgame, except to be creepy. And prolong the story. Ah. I see now.
Total Losses


Thoughts on Unsane

  1. Sarah Sullivan says:

    I’m so glad you reviewed this, because it finally inspired me to watch Repulsion. (Which I know I should have watched years ago and that the fact that I didn’t proves that I’m something even worse than plebian). My friend Kurt Furnoy (the other person I know who reads this site regularly) has been telling me to see it for years, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.


    1. London in the 1960s is better than San Leandro today.
    2. The dead rabbit.
    3. The dead rabbit.
    4. Why were 1950s & 1960s landlords so forgiving about late rent? I mean, I know he did eventually try to rape her, but before that he was just asking for the rent.
    5. I love the apartment and they probably weren’t paying very much for it.
    6. I know this makes me a horrible, wanna-be bourgeois nothing (I’m not even at the level of a pseudo-intellectual), but I think the concept he was going for was more fully realized in Rosemary’s Baby and I still like that movie better. I’m sorry. I suck. I like devil babies and Ruth Gordon offering plain old Lypton’s tea.
    7. The dead rabbit.

  2. Scott Scott says:

    Ruth Gordon is a treasure, and so well cast there. I still like Repulsion better, but I’m known to be perverse. Also, I like that a film that occurs in one place and where nothing happens can be so scary.

    Yes, but is the rabbit actually dead. You better check, just to be sure.

  3. Sarah E Sullivan says:

    The more I think about “Repulsion,” the more I’m thinking of it as the movie version of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Which makes it even more awesome than it already is., The ACTUAL movie version of “The Yellow Wallpaper” was some sort of “Merchant & Ivory” lighted travesty that missed the entire point of the story. I don’t know if Polanksi was consciously inspired by CPG when he did the movie, but I’m going to go with the idea that he did and announce it loudly in cocktail party conversations from here on out.

    1. Scott Scott says:

      So, apparently I have to approve second comments. I would know that, but that’s the only time it’s happened.

      Wow, two movies I’ve never heard it! Even if one is a short story! You should definitely spread that idea at cocktail parties, but only ones where Polanski is present, and remind him, when he confronts you, that that’s what he told you a moment ago, and he’s forgotten. Get enough people to go along and he’ll wind up in a room with a rabbit in the fridge in no time!

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