Cert: 15 Runtime: 94 mins Director: Benedict Andrews Cast: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Ruby Stokes and Riz Ahmed
I don’t know anything about you except you abused me
2017 has been and gone, I have missed a few movies because of various things mainly life. Una had been on my radar for sometime and I missed it’s cinematic release. David Harrower wrote Blackbird for the stage and to great acclaim across the globe. It was more than fitting that Harrower wrote the screenplay for Una. Benedict Andrews a theatre director crosses over to film-making with Una, he too has directed Blackbird on the stage. It’s very seldom in cinema that the source material is given the respect that Blackbird has. So what is Una about you ask? Tormented by a dark past, Una (Rooney Mara), a young woman in her late twenties who lives with her mother, is trapped in a dead-end job, desperately seeking a way out in ephemeral liaisons with strangers at nightclubs. Under those circumstances, an old photo of a man (Ben Mendelsohn) who used to be close to her will impel Una to stop by at his workplace, without knowing, however, what to expect from her unannounced, and above all, unpleasant visit. In the end, should the past stay buried?
Una is a vary unique and brave film tackling a difficult and sensitive subject, and also important in showing how awful sexual abuse is and the damaging effects it leaves on the victims. Una really resonated with me and shows no signs of being afraid to show the full effects and not trivialise it. Benedict Andrews directs with a suspenseful touch, passion for the subject and potent realism, he doesn’t allow the film to hold back nor does he allow it to go overboard with the unsubtle. Una is not always subtle but that is not an issue, the subject itself isn’t subtle either. In numerous inter-cutting flashbacks, Andrews shows the events that led us to the present day. The film opens as the teenage Una is sitting quietly under a tree near her home. As remarkably performed by newcomer Ruby Stokes, Una is a bright and articulate teenager who genuinely believes she is in love with Ray, a neighbor and friend of her father. The sexual act is not shown, only the emotional consequences of the thwarted three-month relationship that leaves Una with unanswered questions.
Harrower lets Una develop into it’s own entity. We travel more, go to the past and tackle the world around our protagonists. His dialogue can be so unnerving and difficult, but the audience requires to understand Una’s grief and thoughts. Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn’s performances are positively on blistering fire, particularly Mara. You can feel her confusion and pain throughout. Rooney Mara is one of the best working actors working today, her performance feels like it was swept under the rug. This is an award worthy performance. As for Ben Mendelsohn, he was convulsive and vile. He could manipulate Donald Trump to resign as President. You can sense he is remorseful but his urges for Una are still persistent. They worked well together and it felt like a real kinetic connection. Una is a complex drama that will not appeal to everyone but whose strength does not lie in its cultural or political agenda but in its art. Una explores, the darkest places of human behaviour.Powerful film-making and daring, Una will stay with me for sometime.