A dark, tormented soul, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a finder and returner of taken/kidnapped children. He stumbles onto something that is larger than expected and the resultant fallout changes everything.
Adapted from the Jonathan Ames novella of the same name, You Were Never Really Here is a superbly constructed film, it leaves you to work out what is happening and it takes its time in revealing key bits of information. In this way it is a somewhat slow start but it never once loses your interest as there is so much to keep you intrigued, so much to try to work out. There is a lot of violence involved in this film but it isn’t in your face violence, but it isn’t quite just implied either, it walks a fine line between almost showing but never quite showing it happening, it is so cleverly done. Highlighting the result of the action being carried out rather than the method. The film itself is very dark in tone but it doesn’t depress at all as you watch this unlikely saviour do whatever is necessary to return these children to their families.
Joe is secretive, lonely and completely careful about keeping his working life separate from his home life to the point of paranoia. Methodical in his preparations but is also left with disturbing visions from his past that return to haunt and attack him, giving him a slightly unhinged feel to go with his unkempt looks.
A huge, hulking, powerful Joaquin Phoenix is just superb in this and he is the focus in pretty much every scene, I really can’t praise him enough in this and he just keeps on putting in these amazing performances. I’ve just seen that he is in the forthcoming The Sisters Brothers due out next year, which is an amazing book by Patrick deWitt and is directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Dheepan). Even more excited about this one now!
But back to this film and Lynne Ramsay has crafted an amazingly powerful thriller here and I can’t wait to watch it again.
Overall Rating: ★★★★½