you were never really here

DIRECTOR: Lynne Ramsay (we need to talk about kevin)
STARRING: joaquin phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Judith roberts, and john doman

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

★★★★

When a teenage girl goes missing, a jaded, brutal enforcer attempts a rescue mission. He uncovers corruption and abuse of power along his way.

Joaquin Phoenix has had quite the year. Most portrayals of Jesus in film are more God like; Joaquin gave us a performance in Mary Magdalene that was one of the most human. Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot might have slipped under the cultural radar but Joaquin's performance is nothing short of extraordinary. And then we come to this film. Its no wonder Phoenix won Best Actor at Cannes for You Were Never Really Here. His performance is completely off the charts. 

Joe is the kind of guy who moves unnoticed through a crowd which is just the way he likes it being an enforcer/hitman. He's the guy you call to sort stuff out when the cops can't. When Joe takes a routine job to rescue a teenage girl everything in his life begins to unravel as he unwittingly uncovers corruption at the highest levels. 

You Were Never Really Here is a slow burner that gradually increases in narrative speed hurtling towards its conclusion.  Director Lynne Ramsay does a superb job unfurling the story's twists, turns, and stomach punching moments never giving into the temptation to allow them to drip with sentimentality. Its just not that kind of movie as it throws light on under age sexual exploitation - a pretty dark subject. Its raw, unforgiving, and utterly brilliant. 

Although the ending is a little bit - and I mean just a tiny bit - of a let down; it seems to end a little too abruptly. That being said director Ramsay's inventive flourishes - Joe's flashbacks and his rescue attempt of Nina from the under age brothel seen through the eye of security cameras are superb. 

But You Were Never Really Here belongs to Joaquin Phoenix. It truly is a beautifully nuanced performance going from an attentive, caring son to depraved, violent hitman in a heartbeat. The only other performance that could possibly be on par with this one was his own in Don't Worry, He Wont' Get Far on Foot

You Were Never Really Here is raw, unforgiving, and utterly brilliant with a beautifully nuanced performance from Joaquin Phoenix.  

★★★★

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