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Movie Review: Una 

Rooney Mara simmers in this taut, beautifully composed drama

  • Rooney Mara in Una

Rooney Mara seeks revenge—or something like it—against her rapist in Una, a spare and beautifully photographed exploration of the complexities of trauma. When Una was 13 (played at that age by Ruby Stokes), her neighbour Peter (Ben Mendelsohn) began paying inappropriate attention to her, culminating in a sexual relationship. He ran, was kept from her in the court proceedings and she never saw him again. Fifteen years later Una is still living, with her mother, in her childhood home. She’s discovered him living several hours away, under a new name, and she’s going to find him.

The film, which weaves in gorgeously framed, often silent flashbacks, takes place over the course of a day and night, beginning at Peter’s factory—where his co-workers are essentially hunting him because he has to lay a bunch of them off—and then at his house, where Una discovers an unsettling new detail. As an incredibly damaged human, Mara is as restrained here as she was in Carol; when Una does explode it’s usually to her own surprise, struggling with feelings of abandonment, hate and even desire for the man who ruined her life.

Una is one of the best-looking movies of this or any year—cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis (The Lobster) builds giant backdrops around these actors—geometric puzzles formed by glass and brick, a clutch of trees, a stark white hallway: It’s as if the world is consuming Una. The tragedy of this story is it already has.

Rated R (MPAA) · 94 min. · 2017
Director: Benedict Andrews
Writer: David Harrower
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Tobias Menzies and Indira Varma

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