“I don’t know anything about you except that you abused me.”Una
Content Warning: child sexual abuse
Rooney Mara delivers an utterly absorbing performance as Una, a woman who has decided to confront the man who sexually abused her as a teenager, in an effort to understand and reclaim her past. David Harrower’s script delves into shades of grey in the emotions and motivations of the pair, but not in culpability — even Ray makes no attempt to justify his actions, only to contextualise his feelings, a fine line that Ben Mendelsohn deftly navigates through quiet chemistry with Mara. Una is deeply uncomfortable to watch, and there is a disparity between the memories recalled in conversation and the flashbacks to a fragile thirteen-year-old, ensuring the viewer never loses sight of the victim. Most remarkable about this translation from stage to screen is its use of space and light. The conversations between Ray and Una shift between rooms in a deliberately sparse warehouse with only artificial light: clinically white when the lights are on, and shrouded in darkness when off. This lighting parallels Ray’s past being dragged into the harsh light, yet he often finds it easier to admit to concealed truths in the dark. Throughout the middle section of the film, Ray’s colleagues relentlessly search the building for him, a metaphor for his past catching up with him. Whilst this adds a sense of urgency, the dialogue flounders as the conversation becomes repetitive. The final third of the film shifts to other locations which is necessary to push the story forward, but in the process loses some of the caged tension that drove the film. It allows us to appreciate how prison was finite punishment for Ray but it provided no closure to Una’s relationship with him, this inability to move on leaving her emotionally stunted, using promiscuity in an artificial attempt to reassert control.
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