Adapted from the acclaimed David Harrower play Blackbird, Una is about an adult woman named Una (Rooney Mara) who confronts the older man, Ray (Ben Mendelsohn), who sexually abused her 15 years earlier. The story goes in directions that are increasingly revealing, not to mention icky, and you can tell from this early scene how intense the tension between the two characters will be.
The play’s setting of a drab office space has been changed to a large chain hardware store (Riz Ahmed from The Night Of costars as a colleague of Ray’s) and the location has seemingly been resorted to Harrower’s native Great Britain, at least based on Mara’s English accent. The playwright adapted the material himself for celebrated theater director Benedict Andrews, here helming his first feature film.
In his remarks after seeing the movie at its Telluride Film Festival world premiere, EW’s Chris Nashawaty wrote, “[Una] is a grown-up film that gives searching audiences something heavy to wrestle with. It may be the best-acted feel-bad movie of the year.”
Of this scene, Nashawaty commented, “When Una finally meets up with Ray, Mendelsohn’s face goes white as a sheet. Una’s got him just where she wants him — where she’s wanted him all these years. But as their encounter plays out over the course of many hours, the power balance between the two gradually shifts back and forth like a see-saw until we’re not sure what Una wants. She may not even know.”
Una screens at the Toronto Film Festival next week. The film has not yet announced a release date.