You Were Never Really Here (2018)
Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 1 Average: 3/5]
Directed By: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, Judith Anna Roberts
You Were Never Really Here marks the return of Lynne Ramsay after a 6 year hiatus. It is based on a book by same name by Jonathan Ames. You Were Never Really Here is the story of a hitman struggling with horrors of his past and his quest for salvation.
It is the story of Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), who is a combat veteran and a former FBI agent. His abusive childhood and combat days bring back haunting memories in form of hallucinations. And to deal with these hallucinations he takes up a career as a hitman who specializes in rescuing trafficked girls. A lot of movies have been made on hitmen but this stands apart as it explores one with a conscience. Joe is a complex character- he takes care of his ageing mother and a few scenes later hammers a guy to death. In another scene he patches up a guy’s wound to ease his suffering after shooting him.
The essence of You Were Never Really Here is exploring the effect of violence on a person. The emotional pain that comes with physical/mental trauma changes a person for the rest of his/her life. Throughout the movie Joe tries to deal with suicidal tendencies which he finally overcomes when he saves Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov). Love and kindness help restore the balance lost by violence. It also deals with child trafficking and how the political class involved in the ring would do whatever to keep it a secret. Nina is the daughter of a New York senator Albert Votto (Alex Manette) who contacts Joe’s handler John Mcleary (John Doman).
At first it seems as a simple job highlighted by the ease with which Joe is able to track Nina’s location. But things go south when he finds out Governor Williams owns the sex racket. To protect the whole scandal soon federal agents show up and Albert Votto commits suicide. How Joe with his suicidal tendencies and hallucinations and federal agents on his trail saves Nina forms the plot.
Lynne Ramsay has used an impressionist style with non-linear storytelling. The movie doesn’t take it on itself to explain the characters or the situations. Hence we have to use our imagination to fill the voids left by the storytelling. Joe’s troubled past is shown in flashbacks as a collage of pics. So, if you blink you could miss out on important details of his life.
Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant as a worn out assassin. As there aren’t much dialogues for Joe, the scope for acting is huge. Almost every emotion is conveyed through facial expression or body movements. After being here and there Joaquin Phoenix is finally settling on and doing good solo roles. You Were Never Really Here is about Joe alone and none of the other actors have much role though Samsonov as the drugged out Nina with her angelic mask-like face creates an impact.
You Were Never Really Here is good but was too heavy for me. Watch it for Joaquin Phoenix and share your rating above.