One in four girls is sexually abused before the age of fourteen. They have a very hard time getting over this defilement of their bodies and this assault on their peace of mind. They long for serenity, security, and confidence but often give in to the rage that is burning within. One of the most important challenges of sexually abused girls is to move beyond "victim" to calling themselves "survivor" instead.
When Una (Ruby Stokes) was 12 years old she was seduced and then abandoned by Ray (Ben Mendelson), a man in his forties. Now much older but no wiser, she (Rooney Mara) tracks him down and confronts him in a scalding verbal attack. She is a lonely young woman who lives with her widowed mother. She is convinced that Ray's illicit brief affair with her — along with his promise to run away with her — put her on a path of self-destruction. He has taken a new name, job, and wife after serving a short sentence in prison. Ray's chief desire is to avoid further assessment of the past.
Una is directed by Benedict Andrews as a harrowing portrait of a young woman's rage against the middle-aged man who ruined her life. Many, no doubt, will find this drama too intense even though the pedophilic act is not shown on screen. The screenplay by David Harrower is based on his play Blackbird which touches upon the double-edged meanings of yearning. This character quality can light up one's life when it is properly nurtured. But its shadow side can lead to behavior that is destructive to ourselves and hurtful to others.
Here Una has trouble with closing the shameful door in her past because she thinks that she did and still loves Ray. This complicates the ease with which we usually deal with our feelings about pedophiles. Love always complicates and sends us on our way with mixed messages about anger and yearning in relationships of all kinds.