Claire Foy mesmerises in Steven Soderbergh's return to the thriller.
Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Logan Lucky etc..) returns with arguably his most ambitious project yet. A tense Psychological thriller, his first since 2013's Side Effects and all shot on an Iphone.
Foy, best known for her golden globe winning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix's The Crown gives a star turn as Soya Valentini, a woman wrongly committed to a rather suspect mental hospital, or so we are led to believe, and is forced to come face to face with her stalker.
The film itself begins with Soya (Foy) leading a seemingly normal, independent life, having moved from Boston to Pennsylvania for a new job. But all is not what it seems. It's not long before the pieces of a quite messed up jigsaw are put into place. The first of which being Soya's frightful panic attack while getting to grips with a guy she picked up (after the quickest and most un-realistic use of tinder ever seen on film) at a bar.
It is straight after this that the audience is spoon fed a piece of information about Soya's previous life in Boston. One in which a man called David Strine (Joshua Leonard) stalked her mercilessly for 2 years. And this is where the rollercoaster begins. After consulting a therapist and signing what was thought to be a routine document, Soya finds herself involuntary housed in the menacing Highland creek mental facility and is forever looking for a way out.
The obvious gimmick and lure for audiences of any kind when going to see this film is the way it was filmed. The use of an Iphone camera and the gorilla film-making technique has started to become a semi-regular thing, since Sean Baker used it so masterfully in Tangerine a few years ago. It gives the picture a slightly grainer look and the camera a more jolty feel, which can only be a good thing in a thriller such as this. The ability to to move the camera into positions a normal camera wouldn't be able to get to, as shown by some wonderful close up scenes of Claire Foy while, pleading for her release.
However, even with all the Soderbergh magic, it is the strong performances that make this a wonderful little B-movie. Claire Foy, showcasing that she can do more than be a sophisticated royal, is unleashed and is unwavering in her performance of a woman you just quite can't work out. It's a testament to her extraordinary acting skills that she does just enough to have you wonder if Soya really should be in the facility, but not too much as to turn the audience off from the character.
There are also some surprisingly fruitful supporting performances. Joshua Leonard as estranged stalker David Strine, delivers a masterfully creepy performance, while keeping it level enough to see the human elements of a man clearly deranged. While Jay Pharaoh turns in a solid, level headed performance as patient Nate Hoffman, and has a mildly compelling storyline of his own.
But no doubt this film belongs to Foy. In almost every frame of the film, which itself clocks in at a nicely paced 1h 30m, she toils back and fourth between stable and unstable and sane and insane to really establish herself as an incredible screen actress.
Overall the film marks another solid effort for one of Hollywood's underrated directors, it fast pace, and unnerving cinematography are a winning combination in conjunction with it's juggernaut of a lead performance, and as in the films final shot, may leave audiences looking over their shoulder.