Skip to main content

"Unsane," reviewed

What is explored in "Unsane" more than anything else is the horror of finding outside one's class protections and subject to all the hoary hells of abuse that are routinely afflicted upon those society has clearly designated as containers for hopelessness. #MeToo has exposed how society had one large category of them, namely women, who could be subject to harassment and where they'd quickly learn that those they might have come to for support and redress functioned more to confirm that society was rather hoping that all the rage that had been situated upon them by the perpetrator... would remain contained there, to their detriment, or even to their full inability to survive at all, and so to their therefore consequent contemplating and following through with suicide.

But our society has another category of designated victim and I think it is actually rather this one that is the focus here in this film, and it is to find oneself removed from consideration from one's literate, well-educated, high-income-earning peers -- the professional class -- and rendered so that within the phenomenology of this class they'd see you as actually more one of the ordinaries, the permanently afflicted, evolutionarily unfit people, they fled to the refined urban neighbourhoods to get away from and whom they've intentionally endeavoured to disown for such a lengthy period of time they'd cease in any way to any longer resemble. Owing to a situation that was unlikely to repeat itself, Sawyer Valentini finished off a day where she was mercilessly manipulating clients into thinking they were lucky to have her services rather than vice versa, where she contrives a situation where initially two equal parties meet into one where one will function as her unpaid gigolo while idiotically believing that he won, that he had control, that he himself "having gotten what he wanted," and managing her mother, whom she has moved hundreds of miles apart from, with details of her life which keeps her own self mostly withheld, by confessing to a warm blanket of a therapist, a patient broad Labrador at a desk, that she sometimes does have inklings of maybe committing suicide; that she has indeed imagined the very exact, controlled way she would in fact do it.

Despite the pleasures of administrating, of telling others how it is, she weakly still could be lured to assume the passive so that she might herself be heard, and it may have been a way of actively punishing herself -- you weak stupid bitch!... you're just like everyone you despise -- for having done so that, or maybe that plus being within a setting that prompts poses of infantilism, she foolishly signs forms without quite entirely reading them -- not exactly something which would seem her daily... and for this double mistake, this expansion of initial error into concomitant, self-punishing, highly-momentarily reveal of herself as one of the dependent asinine, she becomes perhaps permanently one of the rare losers that would remind everyone else of her class that as safe as they are in their protectiveness, to never allow themselves to get too presuming or sloppy. The abyss you could find yourself dropped into, is too terrible. Suddenly she's the Jerry McGuire sundered into the dreaded cloak of failure. A scary cautionary tale to warn others by.

She's now a mental patient, by law; a danger to herself and to society. Worse, she's one of those insurance agencies use to augment their stock valuation, their income reports, their reports of "success," making her one of the tens of millions of Americans who are used and abused each year by companies invested in making sure they are kept healthy when it's in the company's financial interest that they "become" so, and remain diseased and unhealthy when not. She's one of the ordinary Americans all members of the professional class are at some level aware are containing all the humiliation and hopelessness and unaddressable powerlessness that seem somehow to need to be felt by a large body of afflicted someones, in order for their own selves to be experiencing such unrequited long spells of accomplishment and advantage.
The nurses, guards, police, react to her as if they can't see that she in fact is special -- which the film establishes that she certainly is, a smart, observant, hi-IQ Soderberghian type -- but rather just an ordinary varietal of the insane: the hysterical and self-righteous type. Normally this is how she would have them, the kind of limited human monstrosities that make it seem that if they in their lives face most of society's burdens, their own moronic, stunted selves makes them certainly deserving of it. It's not clear whether they're suffering from the Stanford Prison Experiment syndrome, where an institutional setting prompts the activation of their own hidden sadism; in fact, it actually rather seems that they've become what all people become when they realize that being loyal first to the administrator and not to the patient is the way to get through their job unscathed. View things as the administrator would -- all patients are people who may or may not advance the financial interests of the company: they are to be viewed skeptically and with intolerance -- and you feel the relaxed state that comes in knowing that the corporation you work for would never see you as a problem to their interests. You're a child; you go about as a dictated-to somnambulant; but your parents will never be angry with you. And you've got subjects you can aggress upon if they ever raise a note of complaint, because there's nothing they're going to be able to do about it unless your harassment is in the coinage law enforcement will recognize, which it never will be.

But it is not just a sojourn for her to have further proof of how asinine most people are, a narrative she starts developing for herself out of increasing frustration, but a lethal full depositing of her amongst them in the eyes of people just like her. This is confirmed for her when she meets her psychiatrist. Unlike with the nurses, whom she engages with in a way which would show to any savy ostensible onlooker just how stupid the nurse is for her falling for an appeal so overtly obviously false and manipulative -- a strategy which actually shows that what is alarming her most isn't simply her being kept against her will but her being kept as if she is one of the people she must always be self-identified as being distinguished from, for she's too savvy to not recognize it as counter-purpose to the former -- she appeals to him as a member of her class; straight, unadorned appeal. She's maybe a little off-balance -- but who in her situation wouldn't be? -- but surely the sheer anthropology of her, the whole clearly-educated, full-of-class-markers aspects of her, would signal to the psychiatrist that a colossal crime of the worst sort had transpired and one of the deserving winners of society has been managed by their own instrumentation into the routine dehumanizing treatment only due people ostensibly deserving of them, the out-of-luck, worthily-suspect ordinary. But without blinking: No, he can't see anything about her above and beyond what is reported in his charts. But without blinking: She'll be filed in such a way that is profitable for the company and career-sustaining/enhancing for him.

She's requited to her situation; she's out of luck. She experiences the horror that many people who are being designted as #MeToo perpetrators are coming to feel as their peers who once saw them as fellow luminaries, see them now as fully exposed/denatured in a item-list of the accusations put to them: perpetrator, only; member of a despised out-class that is pushed out as far not-akin to you as possible so that it can be more believably seen as alien and other. She experiences the horror that many who are being designated as members of the "witch hunt" crew are being encouraged to feel, in retaliation. This particular situation of two who should be fundamentally class-loyal finding themselves actually disowning the other, is an exposure of the disruption currently beginning to afflict the professional class vs. the working class paradigm that's been society's sure norm for several decades. Now the professional class is landing one-another into newly created "death camps" that dissolve one's hard-won reputation and credibility to zero.

Fortunately, one of her fellow "inmates" deems her actually sane, obviously so, self-evidently so, in fact: he confirms her in every way possible, even sexually; and fortunately, though he hasn't revealed this to her, he acts in such a composed and intelligent manner throughout it's hardly a surprise when it turns out he's a reporter who's infilitrated the institution who's pure from the genuine contagions ACTUALLY contained therein -- for who else amongst all the "sick" actually seems even slightly norm in this institution? no one we see. Some may lapse, but fortunately some of the same type will never not recognize their own... "you've" still got some buttressing, and therefore a bit of time to recalculate strategy.

At the finish of the film, where her own intelligence and superiority has contrived the death of her stalker and the humiliation and full destruction of the fellow patient -- a woman-witch, possessed, as I remember it, even of a cackle -- who was the bully in the institution, who's own obnoxious assaults on her prey were never noticed but whose profit-enhancing prompted violent retaliations by her victims always were, and, through her own luck, the death of the one person in life who could still humiliate her by proving her required cavalry despite all the efforts she had put into always being her own -- her mother -- whom, lets face it, is usually the one who prompts our moving several hundred miles to a big city, and whom usually requires our own covering up of this real reason -- by falsehoods large or small -- to absolve our sense of guilt and fear of discovery over having abandoned her and leaving so far from home, she finishes two steps ahead, in a higher echelon job, and with more power to dispatch those who might even begin to consider crossing her.

She ends "all kinds of bitch," as her most recent prey asserts, the fellow-employee who looked at her aglance at the beginning of the movie. And so too all the execs right now who are only pretending to be engaged in the political process, and who are secretly thinking ahead to the survival centre they might be building for themselves in some apocalypse-safe zone.

There's the business of her projecting onto select men a sudden vision of a terrible predator, that remains just as manifest in her at the end as it is in the beginning. I have not addressed it. I experienced it in the film almost like it was a tendency of the brain that could affect her as hard as an epilepsy attack, and which she'd learn to treat through a kind of isolation of stimuli... a large black spot of cancer that could appear suddenly to ruin any frame of reality, removed as a possibility for good. Not for her the recommendations to be eternally vigilant of stimuli, that a hired stalker-defence professional gives her, the always feeling out of things for their ability to invite predation -- an invite to a perennial potential victim's perspective -- but to edit them out of view entirely. I suspect she'd ask all future lovers -- all now overt gigolos, surely -- to come to her masked in garb proven to avoid triggering her. Just as she'd subject a fellow woman to a possibly carried-out act -- if things went wrong -- of rape for her own convenience, she'd possibly make use of the friendly reporter who died in "the error" of showing sympathy and support for her (she didn't figure this could happen? hyper-intelligent and aware her couldn't find way to warn him? the stalker was noted for being non-observant and was as well that rare type of perpetrator who wouldn't mind sharing?), as a kind of model she could mask her gigolos with that would reliably prove to counter the prompt in men that has historically allowed stimulation of exactly the wrong memory centres. One further part of life -- the part of her brain that sometimes has its own ideas -- controlled.


Popular posts from this blog

True Detective cont'd

Recently, Rachel Syme wrote this
As the dust settles on the “True Detective” finale, and the adventures of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart fade into the television firmament like the distant stars they found so meaningful, at least one thing is clear: it didn’t quite end the way we wanted it to. There is no doubt that the writer, Nic Pizzolatto, and director, Cary Fukunaga, pulled off a midseason coup, giving us a show in the January doldrums that caused temporary mass insanity. Like one of Rust’s intoxicating philosophical koans about sentient meat, “True Detective” cast a kind of spell over its viewers, convincing them that no matter what it was they were watching it was at the very least something worth the hours of debating, clicking, parsing, and comment-section feuding. Moreover, the gorgeous cinematography depicting Louisiana in the gloaming, the delectable short-anthology format, and the movie-star bona fides made us believe that we were watching something novelistic, even approachi…

Discussion over "Logan Lucky," Hell or High Water," and others, at the New Yorker Movie Facebook Club

Patrick McEvoy-Halston August 19 at 10:42am After "Hell or High Water" getting so much attention, and now with "Logan Lucky"... and even perhaps with "Paterson," and even "Logan" (and "Manchester by the Sea"?), we appear to have the makings of an emerging pattern: people who've been long-ignored by society and felt the burdens abandonment made for them, testing to see if it might now be time for their re-evaluation. One of the things we take notice of in each of these films, is not simply the humiliations they've incurred, the sense of "smallness" they've had to suffer from, but a weighing to see if their weight sufficient so if the finish of the film does break for them, does weigh in heavily with them, for it to feel hedged against fallback. These films are video, dramatizing that a call has sounded, and something in people we haven't been much interested in lately is having them test themselves for the possib…