Lynne Ramsay is one of those directors whose films has always received critical acclaim. Though she is known in the film industry as a heavy hitter when it comes to thought provoking films and amazing storytelling, the general audience is unfamiliar with her work. Yet, she keeps coming back with amazing works of art and her latest film, You Were Never Really Here, shows that Ramsay is here to stay no matter what and deserves every bit of recognition that she will get. Let’s go ahead and find why you need to watch this piece of cinema art ASAP.
You Were Never Really Here is the story of Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a combat veteran who has seen some sh-t in his time. Joe suffers from PTSD and must make ends meet to provide for his elderly mother. To do this, Joe is a hired gun who recuses trafficked girls from the horrible underworld where monsters like, traffickers, pedophiles, and other forms of evil lay. Joe’s methods are brutal, but still precise when it comes to his work – and anyone that gets in his way. Joe’s next job is to rescues Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), the daughter of a New York State Senator. What happens during the film are events that will turn Joe’s already troubled world upside down and forever change his and Nina’s life.
What makes this story so unique is the way we explore Joe’s mind and the trauma that he has endured. Joaquin Phoenix gives a powerful performance with very little dialogue that will grab hold of you. There are many times during the film where Phoenix plays Joe as a very sympathetic character that conveys a very tortured mind that can fly off the handle at any moment – but without hitting you over the head with a hammer. Yet, when the violence ramps up by the hand of Phoenix, the attention is solely placed on his character because it’s almost like a transformation right in front of your eyes.
The direction of this film is amazing. Ramasy does this thing where she places the camera to follow Phoenix around in his more calmer moments and when action and brutality is called upon, the camera changes to a point of view or switches over where you can no longer see his face. This gives a sense that you are almost watching a completely different person from the protagonist. Truly interesting and fascinating at the same time because Ramasy finds way to keep this technique fresh with every opportunity its used.
One scene that definitely should be mentioned because of its pure visual and auditory beauty.
Let me preface this scene: There are several times during the film where Phoenix’s character “counts up” when he’s trying to tame is overacted mind. Samsonov’s character does the same but “counts down” when she wants to come back to reality after using her mind and thoughts to escape whatever bad situation she’s in.
What Ramsay does with these character traits is use them at a pivotal moment where the protagonist makes the decision to save the young girl’s life instead of giving up. It’s so amazingly beautiful that I couldn’t keep my eyes away from what I was seeing. The visuals were so stunning in this scene that it became seared into my memory. The best thing to do is see if for yourself.
There’s been talk that You Were Never Really Here is this generation’s Taxi Driver and that idea is not too far from the truth. The film is no way shape or form a thrilling action film or typical summer blockbuster. It’s a story of two people that have seen horrific acts in their lives and through chaos and survival, find one another. It’s elegantly shot and the acting is spot on superb. Check it out if you want something different in your movie viewing diet.