This post includes a plot summary, an explanation about the ending of the film and a detailed relationship analysis between Una and Ray. Did Ray ever love Una? Beware of spoilers.
If Lolita had a sequel, Una would be it. This haunting drama directed by Benedict Andrews is a film adaptation of the play “Blackbird”. The film is definitely not shy about taboo subjects such as paedophilia, sexual abuse, grooming and gaslighting.
Una (2016) – Summary
When Una (Rooney Mara) was still an underage girl, she had a sexual relationship with a much older man named Ray (Ben Mendelsohn). At some point, they elope to start a new life, far from everyone they know. However, a misunderstanding led Una to wander in the streets looking for Ray, who she thought had abandoned her. Later on, Una is found by the police and Ray is sentenced to jail for his crime. They never see each other after the incident.
Many years later, Una tracks down Ray, who now goes by the name of Pete. He changed his name and is currently working as a warehouse manager. She drives to where he’s working and confronts him. Ray recognizes Una and rushes her immediately to a room. At first, he’s sceptical thinking that she’s just a journalist digging for some “old news”. However, Ray soon realizes that he’s standing in front of Una.
Ray panics. Now, he has Una to worry about and some serious lay-offs to announce. Therefore, he tries to avoid a conversation with her at all costs. As the story unravels, they both find themselves in situations where they can’t run from each other. Throughout their entire encounter, Ray insists that he’s not a paedophile. According to him, what happened between him and Una was just a one time thing. Meanwhile, he asks Scott (one of his employees) to escort Una out of the warehouse.
Una invites herself to Scott’s apartment to get a little more information about Ray. Then, she persuades Scott to take her to Ray’s party. Tension arises when Una arrives to the party. She provokes him by talking to his wife.
Una wanders around the house and finds herself in a teenage girl’s bedroom. The girl enters and demands an explanation. She’s not his child, but his wife’s daughter from a previous relationship. Una storms out the room and insinuates that Ray is abusing his stepdaughter. He denies it and insists that she was the only one. Then, he kisses her in front of the wife, the stepdaughter and Scott. Una leaves the propriety and it’s unclear about what’s going to happen to Ray.
Film Review And Commentary
To be honest, Una is one of those films that you can only watch once. It’s heavy and that ending will haunt you for days. Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn are both brilliant in their respective roles as they made both characters believable. Ben is the reason why you have doubts about Ray’s true intentions with Una. As viewer, you know that Ray is at fault. However, the way how he tells his story makes you kind of feel sympathy for him. However, you shouldn’t and I attribute those feelings to Ben’s brilliant performance. Rooney’s performance is absolutely beautiful. She makes the audience feel almost the same emotions as her character’s: frustration, loneliness and betrayal.
Although the performances were great, the pace of the film was a bit off. It was slow when it needed to be faster. In addition, the flashbacks were a bit unnecessary, in my opinion. We don’t need to see younger versions of the two characters to understand what really happened between them. Overall, the story is very interesting. You’ll find yourself in the same position as the main character: you don’t know whether you should hate or forgive Ray for his actions.
Una and Ray – Ending Explained
The ending doesn’t really give any clues about what’s going to happen to Una and Ray. However, something tells me that it’s not a happy ending. I felt bad for Una, because Ray never admitted the damage that he has inflicted in her life. He’s constantly gaslighting her by making her believe that she was a mistake or an one time thing. Even worst, at some point he even insinuates that she seduced him and he just went along with it. Typical paedophile.
When she leaves his propriety, there’s only emptiness in her eyes. Una realizes that she’ll never get over him or what he did. Even worse, she can’t find the strength to hate him or forgive him. Deep down inside, she truly believed that what they had was real. But it wasn’t. Yet, she can’t come to terms about she feels about Ray.
What about Ray? What is going to happen to him? Now, the cat is pretty much out of the bag. The wife, the stepdaughter and Scott know that Una is more than an acquaintance. It’s clear that he had an intimate relationship with this young woman. No one kisses someone they barely know like that! So, you would think this is an act of redemption for Ray, right? No. I don’t think he kissed her and told her all of those things because he felt guilty. In my opinion, I believe that Ray did what he did because he wants her to stop following him. Those four years in jail and “exposing himself” are not enough to undo the damage. Una is incapable of having or maintaining a long-term relationship because of him.
Did Ray ever love Una? I don’t think so. If he really loved her, he wouldn’t have taken advantage of her like that. Sometimes people tell lies to themselves to justify their terrible actions. That’s what he did, he lied to himself and he wants to fool the entire world with his lies.
Is Ray A Paedophile / Predator?
In my opinion, he is a predator. Una wasn’t a one-time mistake, she might have been his first victim. He didn’t just fall in love with her, he saw an opportunity and took advantage of her innocence. By the way, he might be abusing his stepdaughter too. She’s around the same age as Una, when Ray started to make advances on her.
Ray’s “saving grace” is his way with words, he’s an articulate individual and knows how to persuade people. So, when we see him explaining to Una that he didn’t abandon her, he wasn’t really trying to explain his side of the story. He was trying to gaslight her, making her believing that it was a consensual thing. At the time, she was just a young girl, she wasn’t old enough to consent. What Ray did to her has a name. It’s called grooming.