Friday, October 6, 2017

Movie with Abe: Una

Directed by Benedict Andrews
Released October 6, 2017

Childhood experiences can be very formative, especially those that not are not positive. People of a younger age cannot perceive the world the same way as those who have lived more years and been through much more, and their interpretation of a situation may be warped as a result. Surviving a sexual assault at a young age can have a profound, lasting effect on a person, and, not even addressing criminality or guilt, the adult involved will also surely have trouble putting it behind him or her, particularly if the deed is unmasked to the general public.

Una (Rooney Mara) is a young woman who arrives at a workplace looking for a man named Ray (Ben Mendelsohn). When Ray, who now goes by Pete, sees her, he panics, since she is from a part of his life that he has tried to forget and that no one else who works with knows exists. As he prepares to make an announcement of impending layoffs to his employees, he is confronted by Una, who pushes him to tell her why he left when they began a relationship when she was thirteen, for which he served time in jail after it came to light.

This is a film that features flashbacks to years earlier when Una was a teenager and Ray was the seemingly innocent next door neighbor, but most of the film takes place in the sprawling warehouse workspace where Una tracks him down. Their conversations serve as the core assets of the film, as they each attempt to reconcile what they experienced while responding to the other about their perspective of the situation. It’s no surprise that this dialogue-heavy movie is based on a play, “Blackbird,” from screenwriter David Harrower.

Mara is an actress who, at the young age of 32, has already earned two Oscar nominations, for “Carol” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and this role is one where she dons an accent and puts herself out there, demanding an explanation for why her life was so affected by someone who, unlike her, knew what he was doing. Emmy winner Ben Mendelsohn, who has turned in fine film performances in “Animal Kingdom” and “Mississippi Grind,” is at his least villainous as a man attempting to atone for the bad choices he made earlier in life. On their own, this film’s scenes are strong, but woven together, they lack a certain directed coherence, making this film a captivating but ultimately unsatisfying look into their lives.


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