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2016 London Film Festival Review: Una – “A daring piece of cinema”

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Una is a difficult film to describe because knowing more about it will only spoil the discovery the viewer experiences as this intricately woven tale unfolds.

Rooney Mara plays Una, a woman with a photo of a man who she then attempts to locate. When she tracks him down, the look on his face (and the fact that she vomits as she’s walking towards his work) is more than enough to tell you there is a history here – and it’s far from straightforward. Set against an imposing warehouse backdrop that adds to the vastness of their story, this is a unique and impressive film.

Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Ray, and Mara, are a riveting duo on screen. The film, when it isn’t doing flashbacks to the events in question, is largely the two of them going over their history together. Mara, especially, gives one of the best performances of the whole festival, conveying a depth of emotions, unresolved traumas and so much more besides.

Quite why this is the case is difficult to explain (spoilers!) but needless to say, the subject matter is a very difficult one to make a film about – especially the way it has been explored here. Despite this, it is handled with impressive care, both by the cast and first time director, Benedict Andrews.

Though the ending does not entirely fit with the build-up of the rest of the film, Una never lulls, and never gets dull or boring. It is a daring piece of cinema and both hypnotic performances and excellent directorial vision keep this story moving forward and the viewer hooked throughout.

3-out-of-5

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