Shot entirely on iPhones (whatever that is!) resulting in a near-square screen format, this latest from Steven Soderbergh looked quite good from the trailer and its strong premise - and Soderbergh has yet to make a film which can be airily dismissed (until now?)
Reviews have been everything from 'bonkers' and 'a plot full of holes' to 'gripping drama'. I went with low expectations, with the hope of being pleasantly surprised.
Claire Foy is a successful, newly-promoted, single businesswoman who has just relocated from Boston to Pennsylvania, a major reason for the move having been that she was being stalked by a former boyfriend (Joshua Leonard) after she refuses to accept his texted beseechings to contact him, and she succeeds in obtaining a restraining order against him. In her new location she calls in to an institution where she understands she can obtain psychological out-patient support for her personal situation. Before she returns to her work she is asked to sign a form agreeing to a future programme of sessions to help her, which she casually does - only to find that she has signed herself to be detained in the premises for a minimum of seven days, including constant close supervision, daily compulsory medications - and sleeping in dual sex dormitories! Her nightmare begins, suddenly exacerbated even further on her discovery that one of the institute's medical staff is her very stalker from Boston.
For the film's first half I was thinking that it wasn't really bad at all - effective suspense, easy and sympathetic identification with the victim, pretty good acting and direction. And then it turned. The change came at a clear delineation point, just over halfway through, in the first major dialogue between Foy and her stalker - when the incredulity I experienced just crumbled all that had so well been built up until that point. The script suddenly became slacker and lazier - and as for the plot, it descended into silly melodrama, as though the writers themselves weren't quite sure how to bring the thing to a close, so took the easy option of vicious violence with letting of blood, including two or three murders - and as for the plot, what plot? Convincing, it was not!
It reminded me a lot of those thrillers back in the 1960s when we saw two films in one programme, a B-movie (similar to this one) propping up, and as a preamble to, a more substantial main feature, the film we had really gone to see.
The generally strong cast also includes Amy Irving as Foy's concerned mother.
It's a pity it turned out not to have lived up to its promise. The only reason I give it a slightly above average rating is that it definitely did have the seeds of a good, solid story in its initial set-up and exposition. Such a shame that it wasn't realised...............5.5.
17 minutes ago