You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Ekaterina Samsonov
Available on Digital Download, DVD, Blu-ray & VOD from July 2nd, 2018

by Joanna Orland

Director Lynne Ramsay forges her own take on the crime genre with the highly stylized You Were Never Really Here. The acclaimed film which premiered at the 70th Cannes Film Festival actually has more in common with generic action thriller Taken than first meets the eye. A short and snappy action thriller about a lone middle-aged man saving a young girl from a sex-trafficking ring; the plots are nearly identical. What makes these two films stand apart is style, not substance. And You Were Never Really Here has that in abundance.

The plot takes a back seat in Lynne Ramsay’s visual and aural feast. All you need to know is that Joaquin Phoenix is a ruthless hired gun who rescues young girls from sex rings. Through abstract flashbacks, his troubled past is revealed; he is suffering from PTSD as a war veteran, formerly abused child, and FBI agent who’s witnessed too many atrocities against young women. To overcome his trauma and torment, he channels his anger and particular set of skills to save these young girls. His latest mission goes awry and a bloodbath ensues.

The visual stylization of the film creates a somber mood, the abstract editing contributes to the characterization of Phoenix’s troubled soldier. But the true star of this film is Jonny Greenwood’s score. The unusual music by the Radiohead star elevates this film to something special. It’s insistent and confrontational. You Were Never Really Here is heightened to a mood piece rather than a plot-driven film. If Taken were an arthouse film, this would be it. And that is a wonderful film to be.


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