The allegations against Harvey Weinstein have opened up a whole Pandora’s Box of historical abuse and sexual assault. If (decent) men have become aware of anything in 2017, it should be the sheer scale of the problem. Physical and verbal abuse is something that women have to live with every day. There’s often a power dynamic involved. Which is also the case with child abuse. In Benedict Andrews’s film Una he analyses this through a relationship born out of an abuse of trust.
Una (Rooney Mara), an unhappy young woman, tracks down an old next-door neighbour Ray (Ben Mendelsohn). They had an elicit relationship when she was 13 (Ruby Stokes) and he was her dad’s best friend. On the eve of eloping to France, Ray disappeared. Upset and confused, Una assumed he’d abandoned her and ended up being taken home by police. He served four years in prison. Now, with a changed name and a new family, she accosts him at a warehouse where he’s a manager. They both receive answers they aren’t ready for.
Adapted from David Harrower’s multi-award-winning play Blackbird, Una is a difficult and provocative film which doesn’t merely operate in moral black and whites. Ray is afforded the sheen of believability which allows the drama to work. Themes of abuse, power, love and trust mingle to muddy the waters. Andrews, made his name on the stage, and Una does feel theatrical. Indeed, it’s a script which would work better as a play. However, it’s an involving drama which draws you into the characters before slapping you in the face.
Una is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Thunderbird Releasing on 8 January.