You Were Never Really Here [REVIEW]

You Were Never Really Here is an artful, bleak story which showcases both Lynne Ramsey and Joquin Pheonix's talents in this violent and heart wrenching film.

Most movie fans will be familiar with the work of Lynne Ramsey through her film We Need to Talk About Kevin, the bleak and often times heartbreaking film which follows Tilda Swinton as a mother dealing with her inability to connect with her troubled son Kevin and the aftermath of his violent actions. While it was a difficult film to watch, Swinton delivers a surprisingly subdued performance alongside a star-making turn by Ezra Miller as the titular Kevin.

Keeping with her previous film's dark content, You Were Never Really here is not a feel-good movie by any means. However, it does showcase an absolutely stellar performance by Joquin Phoenix opposite the haunting Ekaterina Samsonov.

Phoenix plays a hitman who is tasked with extraditing the daughter of a politician, who after running away has been kidnapped by sex traffickers. What he discovers is a twisted web of powerful men who exploit and abuse their power to sickening ends.

The film is an exercise in show, don't tell. We never really know the full scope of the childhood of Pheonix's Joe. We see brief flashes to his mother as a young woman, hiding under a table, of young Joe hiding in a closet, and the implication is that his father was an incredibly violent man. Joe, it seems shares that violence but seeks to use it as a tool for good. That isn't to say Joe is a good person. Ramsey doesn't paint him as a hero, but rather as a deeply disturbed man who expresses his violence towards a noble means.

We see flashes of dead women, piled like fish in a shipping crate and we can infer that they represent Joe's failure to save a girl he was sent to find. We never see the sexual assault shown on screen, instead, we see its effect in the haunted eyes of victims and rooms done up in pinks and yellows, with grown naked men who Joe violently bludgeons with a ball-peen hammer.

The film builds to a violent climax but ends in a manner that implies that Joe, nor his new charge will ever truly be free of the horrors they have seen.

You Were Never Really Here is playing in select cities, check your local theatre listings.

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