ⓘ Una (film)

Una (film)

ⓘ Una (film)

Una is a 2016 drama film directed by Benedict Andrews based upon the play Blackbird by David Harrower, who also wrote the films screenplay. It stars Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Ruby Stokes, Tara Fitzgerald, Natasha Little, and Tobias Menzies.

The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2016. It was released in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2017, by Thunderbird Releasing and in the United States on October 6, 2017, by Swen.


1. Plot

A young woman, Una Mara, arrives unexpectedly at an older mans workplace looking for the truth behind the affair that occurred between them. The interactions were instigated by Ray Mendelsohn when she was a 13-year-old child and he was a next-door neighbor and trusted friend of her father.

The facts came to light on the eve of their planned elopement. Convinced by a misunderstanding that Ray had abandoned her, she wandered the streets distraught and bewildered, to be returned home by police, seemingly betrayed.

He served years in jail for his crime, treated as the lowest form of humanity by fellow-inmates. Then changing his name to "Pete", he rose to management level in a large warehouse. She grew up lonely and confused, living with her mother in the same house they lived in before the incident, and in her adulthood, now takes solace in going out for one-night stands and returning home before dawn.

She finds where he works through a newspaper photograph and confronts him just as he is about to attend a critical staff meeting, where he bears the responsibility to announce cutbacks and layoffs to some of the employees. Una insists they talk. What happened between them clearly hurt her, and she is still hurting, that’s why she is so desperate to talk to him. Thinking that she is a threat, instead of showing some empathy or understanding why she needs a conversation so much, he slips out of the room. He is so wrapped up in his fear that he doesn’t realise that she has zero intention to damage his career. Worried about himself and his image more than about a broken girl in front of him, he doesn’t give her a much-needed relief of a long-overdue conversation.

The encounter troubles him greatly. Unnerved, he is unable to function at the work meeting, leaves abruptly, and hides from angry executives and his fellow staff members. Una finds him. They quarrel: he insists that he had been genuinely in love with her, was not by nature a hebephile, and had not been "grooming" her. He tells Una he is now married to a woman his age. It’s obvious that he is still attracted to Una. She instigates a sexual encounter with him, but before it gets too far, Ray abruptly stops it and leaves her to return to his home. He and his wife have planned a large dinner party to be held that night. He gets home and has sex with his wife with his eyes closed.

Una leaves the warehouse with Scott Ahmed, a young single man, and "Petes" co-worker. She invites herself to Scotts place, where she seduces him. She then persuades Scott, by telling him she is "Petes" daughter, to escort her to Rays luxury country residence, where the party is under way. Ray is mingling with his guests as if nothing happened, but is shocked to see Scott and Una arrive. He is clearly troubled by fears of being unmasked. The wife and Una talk briefly; and she drops a hint that their marriage is not entirely happy. Una wanders upstairs, where she finds the bedroom of a teenage girl who is obviously loved and cared for; she curls up on the girls bed when the girl enters and loudly demands an explanation. The daughter of Rays wife, from an earlier marriage, is about 13 years old. Ray denies Unas unspoken accusation. He insists Una is the only one of that age he has ever desired, that she still is "the only one" as he kisses her face, all while his wife, step-daughter and Scott look on from a distance. Una then walks off into the dark, and it is clear that Rays cosy life is about to implode.


2. Production

In November 2014, it was announced that Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn had been cast as Una and Ray respectively, with Benedict Andrews directing from a screenplay by David Harrower who also wrote the stage play on which the film is based. With Jean Doumanian, Patrick Daly, and Maya Amsellem, producing under their Jean Doumanian Productions and West End Films banners respectively. Celia Duval co-produced, with executive producers Jason Cloth, Aaron L. Gilbert under his Bron Studios banner, as well as Sharon Harel, Kevin Loader, Eve Schoukroun. In May 2015, Film4 joined the film as a financier. In June 2015, Indira Varma, Tara Fitzgerald, and Riz Ahmed were all confirmed to star in the film. Jed Kurzel composed the films score.


Production on the film began on June 13, 2015, in the United Kingdom.

Further filming locations include Dungeness, Greatstone and Lydd, in Romney Marsh, Kent which feature as a remote hideaway location.


3. Release

In September 2015, Variety released the first image from the film. In November 2015, it was announced the film had been re-titled Una. In November 2015, IndieWire released another image from the film.

The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2016. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2016 and the BFI London Film Festival on October 9, 2016. Shortly after, Swen acquired U.S distribution rights to the film, partnering with Eammon Films handling the theatrical release. Thunderbird Releasing acquired U.K. distribution rights to the film and released it in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2017. It was released on October 6, 2017, in the United States.


4. Reception

Una received positive reviews from film critics. It holds a 76% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 6.77/10. The websites critical consensus reads, Una s well-matched leads bring an uncomfortable story fearlessly to life, keeping the movie consistently gripping as it navigates the tricky journey from stage to screen." On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 62 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

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