Una, the surprising film debut by theatre director Benedict Andrews, is based on the critically acclaimed play Blackbird by David Harrower. In this disconcerting drama we follow Una (Rooney Mara), a 28-year-old woman with a secret past.
At the age of 13, Una ran away from home with her 40-year-old neighbour Ray (Ben Mendelsohn) with whom she was having a sexual relationship. He received a four-year jail term. Fifteen years later, the emotionally damaged Una visits Ray in a bid to seek recourse. He meanwhile has built a new life for himself and is known as Pete.
This film’s strength lies in its ability to wrong foot the viewer, due in part to the mystery surrounding Una’s motives. Clearly, the events Una has experienced have stalled her emotional development. She has been left impulsive, which in turn causes the confrontation to unfold in surprising ways. Stokes playing the 13-year-old Una and Mendelsohn playing Ray/Pete are fantastic. But the film is carried mainly by Mara in her role as the broken Una who finally wants answers to the questions that have plagued her for years.