You Were Never Really Here (2018): Movie Review

You Were Never Really Here (2018)

Lynne Ramsay is one of the most nerve wracking directors around.  The writer-director behind We Need to Talk About Kevin delivers another pristine and brutal drama about damaged souls.  In You Were Never Really Here, PTSD and trauma are laid bare through Joaquin Phoenix as a veteran reconciling his guilt by professionally rescuing girls placed into sex trafficking.  Hushed, violent and overwhelming, Phoenix as the tormented Joe lumbers through his destructive, secretive profession surrounded by a stress inducing sound design that might encourage earplugs to muffle the assault.

 

Phoenix deservedly won the best actor at last year’s Cannes for an uncomfortably familiar, jarring glimpse into a damaged man.  Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead and recent Oscar nominee for Phantom Thread) provides an electronic, grinding score with the ever so loud sound design in the film which acts as a character on its own.  “Fireworks and gunfire” was meant to be Joe’s mindset, and the calamity fits. Cut in glimpses of the childhood and military trauma Joe attempts to escape, and you see a man unconcerned with whether he survives his next job.  When sent to rescue the daughter of a senator, Joe’s profession lands him in the sights of the wrong people.

 

This one is not for the faint of heart. As Phoenix chucks a knife at his foot while dealing with his aging mother, the distraction he heeps upon himself previews the ugliness around the corner.  From the point when Joe enters the building to free the young daughter, he embarks on a painful redemption path–one he may never truly escape–until the bleak conclusion. If you’re okay with being assaulted by your movie going experience, this one will ravage you.  Have something funny queued for after.

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