peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 11 10 Una

Una (2016)

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An idle bit of Riz Ahmed completism. Also Ben Mendelsohn. Rooney Mara leads in what presents as a Lolita retread.

Except it's not. Vladimir Nabakov's game, as I saw it, was to make art about something so off colour that people would be forever arguing its merits. This is more of a reworking of Mamet's Oleanna (1994): essentially a two-hander about sexual predation with a few minor characters to add some texture, similarly derived from a play.

One day Rooney Mara decides to relitigate her abuse at the age of 13 by Ben Mendelsohn by visiting him at his workplace, a logistics warehouse. Mara mostly looks vacantly damaged so one of the better moments is when Ahmed gets a smile out of her on the way to the confrontation; that's about it though as his character is just a sap. The script leaves no room for things to go anywhere interesting: she doesn't appear to know what she wants and it's unclear why Mendelsohn engages at all. The workplace shenanigans make for some incongruity when the vibe is revenge, like a realist Promising Young Woman, right up to the end where she just walks off into the night. Or was it reclamation? Heavy handed, heavy on the cliches, humourless, reductive, inconclusive, powerless.

Glenn Kenny: adapted from a play, the addition of flashbacks does not help. Less would've been more. Peter Bradshaw: the play was Blackbird from 2005.