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Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn are riveting in the raw drama Una: EW review

Posted on

Una

type:
Movie
genre:
Drama
release date:
10/06/17
performer:
Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn
director:
Benedict Andrews
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
R

We gave it a B+

A girl sits alone on a bench in a quiet suburban yard, looking hopeful. A young woman in a sequined minidress has joyless, anonymous sex in a nightclub bathroom while music pounds overhead. Soon it’s clear that we’re looking at the same person 15 years apart, and that the chasm between them has a name: Ray. It would be an ugly stretch to call Una — adapted by Scottish playwright David Harrower from his own 2005 two-hander Blackbird, revived last year on Broadway with Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams — a love story, though it does portray the fevered relationship between a much older man (Ben Mendelsohn) and the 13-year-old he seduces (played by Ruby Stokes and later Rooney Mara) without cleaving to a straightforward narrative of predator and prey.

After finding a picture of Ray — who has moved, remarried, and changed his name to Peter — in a local paper, the grown Una decides to pay him a visit. He’s rightfully panicked; she’s not easily ignored. Director Benedict Andrews adds new settings and characters, including Riz Ahmed as a kind bystander drawn into their chaos and Tobias Menzies as Ray’s peevish boss. But the movie belongs to Mendelsohn and Mara, two caged animals circling. Una’s raw, deeply dis­comfiting dance between obsession and exploitation isn’t easy to watch by any metric; they make it hard to look away. B+