“Absence Makes The Hurt Grow Stronger,” reads the text on this official poster (below) for the provocative new drama Una. That’s quite a turn of phrase — and extremely apt for the difficult subject matter of the film — though you’d be forgiven for being distracted by the striking close-up of Rooney Mara, her eyes in puddles of near-tears and cast slightly down and to the side.
Mara plays the title character in Una, an adult woman who skittishly arrives one day at the warehouse workplace of a man named Ray (Ben Mendelsohn). He immediately recognizes her. Years earlier, when Una was 13, Ray sexually abused her. But what follows in the film is a lengthy and very unpredictable confrontation as these two people grapple, sometimes violently, with their shared past. (Check out a clip here.)
Una is based on a stage play called Blackbird by David Harrower (who also wrote the screenplay), which was recently mounted on Broadway starring Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels. Australian theater director Benedict Andrews (who’s directed Gillian Anderson in A Streetcar Named Desire and Cate Blanchett in The Maids) is making his debut behind the camera with the film.
Andrews is a huge fan of the poster. “The distributor got in touch with me to get my thoughts on the art,” he tells EW, while fresh from directing a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London. “We had a nice exchange of ideas and I love what they’ve come up with. It has the beauty, sorrow, and grace of an Old Masters’ painting. Rooney’s eyes stop you in your tracks and make you want to know more.”
Rob Lynch at Eammon Films added, “We wanted an iconic image to represent the film. Rooney is stunning and there is a story in her eyes. Collaborating with Benedict and the design team at Empire Design was a great experience and my partners at Swen Releasing were blown away with the result. It very well represents both the film and Rooney’s incredible performance.”
Una, which also stars Riz Ahmed as one of Ray’s co-workers, opens in theaters on Oct. 6 in New York and Oct. 13 in Los Angeles.