Una und Ray [Blu-ray]
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„Eines der kraftvollsten Dramen des 21. Jahrhunderts“ The New York Times
Die verbotene Liaison zwischen Una und Ray liegt fünfzehn Jahre zurück. Doch eines Tages steht Una überraschend in Rays Büro und konfrontiert ihn mit der gemeinsamen, schmerzlichen Vergangenheit. Ray, der ein neues Leben begonnen hat, muss erkennen, dass er noch immer etwas für Una empfindet und dass das Vergangene tiefe Spuren in der jungen Frau hinterlassen hat.
„Der brisanteste Film der Saison“ L.A. Times
„Ein verletzliches Lolita-Update“ The Hollywood Reporter
„Rooney Mara ist außergewöhnlich“ The Playlist
Über die Vorlage „Blackbird“ von David Harrower
Die zweifache Oscar -Gewinnerin Cate Blanchett sagt über den bekannten Theaterregisseur und Regisseur der Verfilmung: „Benedict Andrews hat ein unglaublich visuelles Gespür und kann jedem Text seine Essenz entlocken.“ 2008 wechselte die Schauspielerin ins Regiefach und inszenierte das provokante Theaterstück von David Harrower für die Ruhrfestspiele in Recklinghausen.
2005 schrieb David Harrower das Stück mit dem Titel „Blackbird“ und Benedict Andrews inszenierte es im gleichen Jahr an der Berliner Schaubühne. Das kontroverse Stück eroberte die Bühnen der Welt, wurde vielfach ausgezeichnet und feierte 2016 seine umjubelte Wiederaufführung am Broadway mit Michelle Williams und Jeff Daniels in den Hauptrollen.
Benedict Andrews sagt über Harrowers Stück: „Es balanciert unsere Gefühle und Sympathien für die Figuren auf Messers Schneide. Es betrachtet eine unmögliche, abhängige und zerstörerische Form der Liebe und fragt, ob Wiedergutmachung möglich ist. Es widersteht einfachen Urteilen und voreiligen Vermutungen und lädt stattdessen ein, den Subjekten und ihrer unaussprechlichen Beziehung unbehaglich nahezukommen.“
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Una is a story that needs to be told. Some may not want to hear it, which is up to them; this review is in no way intended to force the issue. Others may not prefer a movie to expose them to the realities of sex offenders and child rape; that is also their prerogative. But it is, still, a story that needs telling because rape and pedophilia are coming to the surface more than ever now, and speaking personally, I have easier access to movies than cable television or news, so it's perfect for what I need it to do.
This film, no two ways about it, tackles a very hard subject. It is centered on pedophilia, and the aftermath of a particular situation. It is about taking advantage of the innocent; it is about confusion, manipulation, misunderstanding and misleading, a victim, a survivor, and a perpetrator... and it is all conveyed in a way that I can only describe as incredibly real and raw. The subject matter is not for most, as it is understandably tough to swallow, and thereby the film is absolutely not "pretty," but the way it's executed is "beautifully" done, which is to say that the realness and rawness is done truthfully, and without judging the protagonist--whether as a child who had a three-month affair with a wolf in sheep's clothing, or as the scarred woman she becomes as a result.
SPOILER ALERT, at least to a small degree; I'm just leaving that here for those interested in viewing the film.
Right away, we open up with a seemingly innocent shot of a quiet neighborhood; a sensibly dressed young girl (Una in flashbacks; Ruby Stokes), spending time outside, taking in the world around her with a somber and thoughtful sort of dignity. The scene becomes something more when we realize that the young girl is going to visit someone, and her bra is visible. The scene abruptly cuts to that same character, years later, an adult of twenty-something (and now played by Rooney Mara) dancing in a club with pulsating lights and beats, and having an adult encounter with another guest in a bathroom; we see her returning home around dawn, in a shockingly gaudy silver dress, making as little noise as possible as she reenters the house where she still lives with her mother after all these years, and showers off the evidence of her night. She's good at this; she's been doing it for a while now, going through the motions to fill some sort of emptiness.
Clearly, there is something unsaid here. Clearly, there is an unspoken, reluctant acceptance of SOMETHING that has happened, given the sneaking-around in the morning, and the hushed tones which she later exchanges with her mother, and the fact that Una is obviously lying about where she'll be.
Where she'll be is untangling the past at her rapist's workplace. She has gone to confront him and her past, to stand up for herself, to overcome her obsession with him and understand what it was that had really happened between them, now that she is older and can look at it with the eyes of an adult. It has been the only focus in her life since she was thirteen, and now she is twenty-eight. My age. Ray (Ben Mendelsohn), her perpetrator, knows absolutely well what he did, but as much as he was punished for the crime of sexual acts on a child (which left Una with consequences as well), he seems to straddle the line between wishing desperately to leave his past behind him and also still never fully moving forward from it.
The film, you have to understand, is based on a play--Blackbird, by David Harrower--so of course it's going to be somewhat stage-y. Of course there will be whispers, fixed camera angles, and profile shots. I think that this adds to the depth and artistry of the movie. It adds to the rawness, the (please don't misunderstand my wording) intimacy. But as terribly open as the subject itself is, the fact that the film builds upon that with subtle nuances is something to be praised. Most of these subtleties are found in the scenes involving younger Una. I've read many times that the standout performance is by Ruby Stokes, and I couldn't agree more, even though I went into this as a huge fan of Ben Mendelsohn. Absolutely, he is brilliant, and while I can never say that I "love" his Ray character, I will admit he gave an incredibly convincing performance. I was duly impressed by Rooney Mara, though I haven't seen more than two other roles of hers before this one. But back to Ruby: she is where the film comes alive, and chills me to the bone, and makes me love this movie. It's the little things, like how she dresses in t-shirts, never tank tops, and shorts that have just a bit longer leg... very nice outfits, but slightly conservative, trying to nudge her gently into adulthood while keeping the audience aware that she is still a child. It's how long the shots spend on her coy game of look-away when Ray is gazing at her, and her subtle shifts to look at him when he seems not to be watching her. At another point in the movie, at the rest area when they're running away to be together, she lifts her hand into the shot and we see that little juice box she sips from, with its chewed-up straw, and the purple plastic wristwatch she's wearing--these little symbols remind us, lest we forget, that she's still a child. In a different scene, one of the ones I talk about the most, it's that jarring closeup of a tiny hangnail on her left index finger--she's still a child.
There are additions to the plot of this movie that were not in the play, in terms of subplots and characters. I will focus on the most prominent: Ray's charismatic employee, Scott (Riz Ahmed). He's a fun, interesting, decently-written character who is entirely separate from the damaged world in which Una and Ray live, and in this he almost succeeds. His involvement is meant to flesh out the plot, and to serve as sort of a landing-strip for Una as she tries by turns to get back at Ray and overcome her past for her own good. Conversely, in certain places, he weighs the story down just a tad despite his best efforts. It is because of his inclusion in the plot proper that the third and final act comes off a bit jumbled, and it would be a mess if not for being loosely pulled together by the strings of the play's original intent.
Of course, the movie seems like it would be joyless or gloomy, but in fact it does have sprinkles of humor or lightening of the mood in it--mostly led by Ahmed's Scott, and also in the delivery of a few of Mendelsohn's lines and a few scene subtleties. The viewer shouldn't go in expecting a laugh a minute, but neither is it one-hundred percent depressing and grim, and that's what I enjoy about it.
Hear this. What I'm taking away from the artistry of the film is that's how the filmmakers chose to do it; I understand they're in no way glorifying or beautifying the sickening reality of rape and pedophilia. I know that they're not. But in a movie, there will be artistry, and kudos to them for making a movie that retains the beauty of moving pictures without sugarcoating or apologizing for the issue of child rape.
Bottom line: Una is not without its flaws, but then, rhetorically speaking, what movie is? If you want a movie that is well-crafted, unflinching, unapologetic, empowering, and most importantly RELEVANT, this is the movie for you.