Making the leap from stage to screen makes sense in theory and certainly seems easier than adapting a novel to the screen.
After all, plays and films are of similar lengths and have similar three act structures attempting to tell the same stories as most independent films, typically small scale events about regular people that occur over a small amount of time. As opposed to a novel which can take place over decades and consist of vast locations with dozens of characters and plot-lines which can lead to films that are confused or confusing and tend to leave everyone unsatisfied.
Una started life as the stage play Blackbird written in 2005 by Scottish playwright David Harrower. It’s received critical praise from Seoul to Stockholm to Off-Broadway to the Edinburgh festival and it’s not because Una is a barrel of laughs with catchy song and dance routines.
Una is most defiantly not a barrel of laughs with catchy song and dance routines.
Instead it’s about two people reuniting after many, many years and about them discussing something horrific that happened between them several years ago. And if that sounds vague then that’s the way it has to be. I’m sorry, but this is one of those types of films.
It’s driven by two amazing and subtle performances from Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn in a quiet, disturbing little film. It still shows its stage origins but not in the way that you would expect. Instead of monologues, the film appears to have gone slightly overboard on flashbacks when sometimes silence would have been better or even just to have them discuss the events in question.
Because this is a film that thrives in its small, quiet moments. Disturbing you with it’s moral ambiguity and refusal to allow you to make easy judgments about what happened and how it’s impacting both of them in different ways in the present day.
This is director Benedict Andrews first cinematic endeavor as previously he’s directed for Opera