I need answers, but I don't know the question.
When Una (Rooney Mara) was 13, she ran off with her adult neighbor, Ray. (Ben Mendelsohn) After their relationship turned sexual, he abandoned her, then spent a short amount of time in prison for what he had done. He got a new name, a new job, and a new life. Una didn't. And 15 years later she still has questions and feelings and she finally gets to a point where she tracks him down and confronts him.
Una brings in an interesting and little talked about voice to the sexual abuse conversation. What happens when the victim still has feelings for their abuser? What happens when they aren't allowed to move on? And how should we look at those abusers after they have been "rehabilitated?" We all want to think that Una went to therapy, came to terms with what happened to hear and was allowed to move on, but she wasn't. Her parents kept her in the same town, and the same house. Like she says to Ray at one point in the film "You got to change your name. I had to keep mine." It's so unfair for her to still be in this position. Una herself doesn't seem to know what exactly she wants from Ray. An apology or an acknowledgement of her feelings. That felt very real to me. She just wanted to talk to him about what happened. There's a flashback of his trial earlier on where she asks the police officer to give him a message from her. Now she's living out her message.
Mara is excellent here. Una is understandably very melancholy and Mara plays those types of characters well. She also tackles an English accent well. I felt like she was actually from England. She didn't put on the "Nowhere, United Kingdom" accent that many do. Mendelsohn has a hard job as well. He has to humanize a sexual predator and make us wonder if he really did feel terrible for what he had did and moved on from it. Riz Ahmed also has a supporting role as Scott, Ray's coworker whom Una meets, which was a surprise to me. I didn't realize he was in this. I had only heard of this movie after Alex talked about how much he loves Mara's performance in it.
The film is based on a play called Blackbird, and you can tell by the set pieces it wasn't originally intended for cinema. I think the director did a great job of making it more cinematic by including flashbacks of Una when she was younger with Ray. And he does it without actually showing any sexual acts, which I was thankful for. The film does flounder towards the end. Like its not sure what to do with itself. Or maybe that was intended. Where do you go from there?
Watched on: Netflix DVD
Memorable Quote: "Does she know?" - Una (Rooney Mara)