Steven Soderbergh is back to making really cool films. Last year’s Logan Lucky was enjoyable, and this year he’s made a film shot on an iPhone. It stars Claire Foy as Sawyer Valentini, who accidently gets herself committed to a mental institution. However does she belong to be there?
The ambiguity of my plot synopsis says a lot about this film, certainly the first half. You only have to know the concept to be reeled in, and that it’s a 90 minute thriller. The first half of the movie is ambiguous about Sawyer’s mindset, and the events happening around her. After that it becomes more transparent, but no less gripping. Soderbergh does a good job of switching the point of the story, with only a little bit of baggage in the middle. His choice to shoot it on an iPhone really enhances the experience, because it gives another layer to a pretty by the book genre film. The (almost) 16:9 ratio gives the film a enclosed, claustrophobic and documentary like feel. There is space above the characters for things to lurk, or not lurk, creating a sense that the actors are small or trapped. It also has a unique lighting style thanks to the iPhone, with all of the colours appearing starker, and more vivid. There’s an orange hue over most of the film, which gives a nice haze to the main character. It’s an engaging film to look at, and the narrative is greatly improved because of this interesting choice Soderbergh made.
Foy is terrific, and is definitely the next big thing now her stint in The Crown is over. One of things I love about the film is that her character isn’t actually the nicest human being ever. She has a cold side, and Foy plays this well. Sometimes her English accent is slightly present, but her performance is physical and boisterous enough for you to look past that. Her relationship with fellow patient Nate Hoffman (Jay Pharoah) is believable despite Pharoah being occasionally a bit wooden. Juno Temple is great as the outrageous Violet, and Joshua Leonard does his best as the creepy guy stereotype David.
I really am a sucker for a short, snappy and stylistic film that gets to the point of exactly what it’s trying to achieve. It’s the sharpness of the narrative where there’s no pretention, similar to films like Free Fire or Green Room. This movie does fall into genre clichés the more it goes on, and the plot is incredibly fragile but it is thoroughly entertaining. Soderbergh is a great director, and his risk in shooting this in an inventive way is admirable, and I think it paid off.
Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?