David Harrower’s wrenching play Blackbird has stunned and startled audiences ever since it first premiered more than a decade ago. Last spring, Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels received Tony nominations for their performances in the Broadway revival. Told in one break-less, 90-minute stretch, the story focuses on a man in his 50s who is confronted one day at his workplace by a woman in her 20s. Years earlier, he had sexually abused her — and the two of them engage in a long, painful, often uncomfortable (for reasons you don’t expect) confrontation over their shared past.
Australian theater director Benedict Andrews (the recent Gillian Anderson-led production of A Streetcar Named Desire) is making his film debut with an adaptation of Blackbird titled Una, which comes from the name of the play’s female character. Andrews had worked with fellow Aussie Cate Blanchett on a 2014 production of The Maids — and Blanchett gave her full endorsement of the director to her Carol costar Rooney Mara, who stars as the title character here.
Also in these new images, you’ll see another Australian, Ben Mendelsohn (a current Emmy nominee for Bloodline) as the lead male character, Ray. And also check out Riz Ahmed, Mendelsohn’s costar in the upcoming Rogue One, in a role that’s been added to the film version, which was adapted by Harrower himself. Ahmed, fresh from last Sunday’s finale of HBO’s The Night Of, is sporting a similar close-cropped look as he did in the latter episodes of that show.
Una premieres at the Toronto Film Festival in on Sept. 14. No release date has yet been announced.