“You Were Never Really Here” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

16 October, 2017

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Screenwriter: Lynne Ramsay
Director of Photography: Thomas Townend
Joaquin PhoenixEkaterina SamsonovAlessandro Nivola

Synopsis: A suicidal veteran who moonlights as an enforcer finds his already volatile existence collapsing around him after attempting to rescue a missing girl from the horrors of sex slavery.

You Were Never Really Here Review:

An asphyxiating, intoxicating film from a creative genius who’s yet to disappoint, “You Were Never Really Here” is another haunting character study from Scottish treasure Lynne Ramsay whose latest jigsaw narrative reveals an unsightly tale of post-traumatic stress and severe psychological detachment. Meticulous with a backstory unlocked through intense flashbacks, the film harks back to Ramsay’s best, hunting for revelatory snippets and presenting rape and murder as cursory moments within a bigger picture.

A pyramid of references from a director who masks cinematic awareness behind focused storytelling, “You Were Never Really Here” clocks “Léon” and “Oldboy” but never smiles in their direction, creating its own brand of free-fire vengeance while focusing almost entirely on the experiences of a lost individual. Looking suitably dishevelled under layers of beard and body fat, Joaquin Phoenix gives an outstanding performance as a man wrestling with his inner demons, gasping from lack of oxygen and experiencing extreme trauma in both his past and present as he embarks on a cathartic mission to Hell.

Catching Ramsay at her most unguarded and unforgiving, “You Were Never Really Here” presents a violent collaboration between actor and artist, maximising the power of Phoenix’s performative aloofness in a silent analysis without a safety net. Similar to “Drive” with its heady on-the-road aesthetic, “You Were Never Really Here” finds more soul and humanity than any Nicolas Winding Refn movie, seeing a human behind the hammer as Ramsay shields our eyes from brutality, focusing more on the crushing of a jelly bean than on the cracking of a skull yet telling no lies about the horrors we shy away from.


Review Date
You Were Never Really Here