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Film Review: UNA Shows When A Childhood Can Be Lost An Adult Is Left To Be Found

Synopsis: Fifteen years earlier, Una ran away with an older man, Ray, a crime for which he was arrested and imprisoned. When she comes across a photo of him in a trade magazine, Una tracks him down and turns up at his workplace. Her abrupt arrival threatens to destroy Ray’s new life and derail her stability. Unspoken secrets and buried memories surface as Una and Ray sift through the wreckage of their past. (Adapted From The Play Blackbird)

I saw UNA with a social worker who focuses on child, sex abuse, of which she was surprised to see its accuracy. Directed by Benedict Andrews the stage to screen adaptation zeroes in on the control a sex abuser can have over their victim even years later. In a world that does not always know how to confront the horrors done unto children, like child sex abuse, UNA is a must- see film to understand that what the world ignores can plague an individual.

Rooney Mara plays Una, and can officially add another role that proves she is one of the best actresses of hr generation. The fragility and billowing chaos of Una is welted in Mara’s eyes, of which she makes the character feel like she is always on the cusp of tears. No matter how strong or manipulative she tries to play against Ben Mendelson’s Ray, her abuser, she always succumbs to his “nice guy” charm. Frankly, you will, as well. Mendelson plays Ray with s sweet, simplicity that almost makes you forget that this man is, technically, a rapist. The dialogue-based film is filled with “tit for tat” text that would leave Shakespeare eager to dissect its verbosity. Using flashbacks, the audience plays witness to the beginning of this illicit affair, of which Ruby Stokes is stellar as a Young Una. She amps up how a child’s innocence and eagerness to appease adults could leave them raptured by the wrong one. As you see their affair become sexualized, you might want to leap unto the screen to say, “STOOOOPPP!!!”, but it is that type of heightened emotions that proves this quiet film is working. There is no dramatic music, loud noises, or vast landscapes to froth the drama of this film. Only characters that are trying to either heal or deny the massive atrocity of this incident; a child lost their innocence and, even as an adult, they cannot seem to heal from that. Whether confronting her sex offender actually leaves Una with closure or is a “good idea” is up for the audience to decide, and, trust me, you will discuss. 

From promiscuity to literal breakdowns, Una’s journey to healing will leaved people dumb-founded, but eager to learn more about the uncomfortable truths about child sex abuse. With my film partner in hand, I got to learn how extremely accurate this film is, which should make writer David Harrower proud. This is a subject that can either be grazed over or plotted dramatically for its travesty, but UNA is humble in approach. It is simply here to tell you that this can happen to any child, and, if it does, they can expect an adulthood filled with much needed healing. For More Information On UNA and To See The Film On October 6.