Belfast Telegraph

Unsane review: Claustrophobic smartphone hell

 

By Damon Smith

Seeing is deceiving in Steven Soderbergh's hallucinogenic mind trip for a traumatised data analyst, who sees the menacing face of a stalker everywhere she turns.

Scripted by Johan Bernstein and James Greer, Unsane is shot entirely on a smartphone and generates sparks of claustrophobia from the restricted screen framing and occasional blurring of images as characters race around dimly lit corridors.

Claire Foy convincingly casts off the pomp and ceremony of her award-winning role in The Crown to play Sawyer Valentini, who has moved from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape the barrage of text messages of a mentally unstable admirer called David Strine (Joshua Leonard).

Human interaction is limited to clipped conversations with work colleagues, anonymous hook-ups in bars and reassuring telephone calls to her concerned mother (Amy Irving).

Always looking over her shoulder, Sawyer searches online for support groups for victims of stalking.

She is directed to Highland Creek Behavioural Centre, where trained staff will apparently diagnose the best course of action.

Filling in a series of forms to complete her treatment, Sawyer is shepherded into the depths of the facility, where she discovers that her hastily scrawled signature has condemned her to a living nightmare. "By signing this, you've consented to voluntary commitment," tersely explains nurse Boles.

Sawyer is forcibly relocated to a dormitory with other patients including nice guy Nate (Jay Pharoah) and live wire Violet (Juno Temple).

As she queues for medication, Sawyer is horrified to discover that another nurse bears a spooky resemblance to David.

Could he have cunningly infiltrated Highland Creek or has she finally lost a hard-fought battle with delirium?

Three stars

A Wrinkle in Time: Fantastical tale for jaded teenagers

With its impassioned, tub-thumping messages of self-belief and individuality, A Wrinkle In Time is certainly not A Waste Of Time for the target audience of peer-pressured teenagers who are force-fed an airbrushed version of 'reality' on social media channels.

Fantastical realms crammed with otherworldly flora and fauna provide an eye-popping backdrop to a 13-year-old girl's painful coming of age during a madcap time-travelling quest to locate her missing father.

Gifted student Meg (Storm Reid) has shunned friendship since the disappearance of her father Alex (Chris Pine) four years ago during his experiments into space travel.

During a walkabout in the neighbourhood, she encounters Meg's classmate Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller) followed by three astral seers named Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey).

This extravagantly attired three-strong chorus reveals that Meg's father is still alive in another dimension and they need the children's help to locate Alex before an insidious evil named The It pollutes the universe with hatred, jealousy and self-loathing.

Three stars

Pacific Rim Uprising: Robotic adventure needs upgrade

Steven S DeKnight makes an inauspicious feature film directorial debut with a soulless and bombastic sequel, which has been crudely bolted together using spare parts from Transformers and Independence Day: Resurgence.

The film's gleaming hardware is impressive: hulking, digitally rendered robots cutting a swathe through the toppling skyscrapers of Tokyo with flame-licked swords or grappling above and below the cracking ice of a Siberian wilderness.

When it comes to the software of a malfunctioning script credited to four writers, Pacific Rim Uprising is in dire need of upgrades.

Character development is laughable and pivotal deaths barely register an emotional ripple.

Comical interludes fall flat with a joyless thud, including John Boyega's attempts to wisecrack like Will Smith as the arrogant hero of the hour.

Two stars

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