When sitting down to watch a film, often the production companies that appear on screen don’t really offer much in the way of a clue to what tone you might be faced with. Film 4 doesn’t follow this rule. Harshly real, set in the UK, and utterly miserable, Una is exemplary of the pictures Film 4 are best at.
The entire film takes places over the course of a single day as Una (Rooney Mara) travels to Ray’s (Ben Mendelsohn) place of work in an attempt to find answers to the past fifteen years. Through intense and emotional two-handers, and occasional, well-deployed flashbacks, we learn the questions Una has and see the answers Ray produces. Neither are pleasant from our seats in the audience.
“a devastatingly emotional impression on outstanding British cinema”
For a film that is primarily two characters on screen for its duration, the ability of the actors is paramount. Both Mara and Mendelsohn deliver astoundingly touching and traumatic performances that create such a deeply uncomfortable atmosphere you debate more than once why you’ve decided to submit yourself to such a film. Riz Ahmed provides a necessary lightness as Scott, the co-worker of Mendelsohn, ignorant of the situation and a lovely foil to the piece. Tara Fitzgerald appears momentarily as Una’s mother, but still delivers a performance that lasts in the mind.
The soundtrack only adds to the feature, and composed by Jed Kurzel (Macbeth) it was only a matter of just how good it could be.
A deeply evocative investigation into abuse from each side, director Benedict Andrews & writer David Harrower have created a devastatingly emotional impression on outstanding British cinema.
Image: Benedict Andrews