The first clip from Benedict Andrews‘ Una, an adaptation of David Harrower‘s celebrated stage play Blackbird, has arrived, just in time for its bow at the Toronto International Film Festival. As one would likely expect, the clip from the film, which details an encounter between a middle-aged warehouse manager and the woman who he molested when she was 13, focuses on the three main players, namely Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, and Riz Ahmed, with Mendelsohn and Mara playing the central diptych.
This is one of those cases where the abilities of the performers is enough to get audiences amped up, even if the story looks to be a two-hander for the most part, not unlike the play. Mara has done exceptional work under the likes of David Fincher, Spike Jonze, and Steven Soderbergh, while Mendelsohn has flourished in movies ranging from Animal Kingdom and Killing Them Softly to Starred Up and Mississippi Grind. He’ll also be seen next in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, alongside Ahmed, who did some career-best work this year on HBO’s The Night Of, alongside John Turturro.
These are major names that carry major weight but from the look of the clip, Andrews isn’t simply utilizing his actors to prop up a paint-by-numbers adaptation of Blackbird. On the contrary, the clip shows an unmistakable sense of style that builds up the long-delayed meeting between an aged perpetrator and his furious victim beyond Mendelsohn and Mara’s quiet reactions to one another. The use of music and the movement of the camera underline the tension nicely, and Andrews shows a great use of space in taking in the humongous warehouse before having the visual space become centered on Mara and Mendelsohn. There’s no announced release date for Una outside of the festival circuit – it just played Telluride and will be featured in the London Film Festival in October – but this clip makes me impatient to see a North American distributor pick this up. We shall see.
Here’s the first clip from Una: