You Were Never Really Here, 2018
Signed up the 28/03/2017
You Were Never Really Here is a film written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, adapted from a book of the same name. The film follows Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a troubled man, living and taking care of his ailing mother, leading a double life as a hired gun. Joe tracks down missing young girls, who get caught up in sex trafficking rings, for a living.
Joe's way of retrieval of these girls is brute and plain bloody. This is why he is a trusted man for these jobs. He's relentless in his pursuit and he always makes sure to complete the mission successfully, no matter the circumstances, and he doesn't need any assistance from anyone. His angst coupled with hopelessness make him the killing machine he is just fine.
Joe is, as I had mentioned before, troubled. He struggles with childhood trauma, and to top it off he is also haunted by some of the things he has had to do in his line of work. This is a man who would rather choke on his own spit than live to see another day. The only thing keeping him alive is his dear mother.
How Ramsay presents Joe to us is very interesting; he is as soft just as he is a bowl of steaming acid. Moments with his mother help us forget the animalistic acts he had just committed minutes ago. This is how this movie becomes a study of human behaviour. Not only that, but a study of people suffering with scathing mental illnesses.
The sound design is perhaps the most compelling aspect of the movie as it continues on demonstrating where Joe is just too defeated by life to perform his self-loathe and life of suffering. I say this because there's no telling whether Phoenix is putting on a performance or if this is truly his lived experience. Phoenix as Joe is a rare moment in film, as we're made to feel as though we're peeping into a day in the life of Phoenix, rather than Phoenix becoming Joe. Phoenix has a way of doing this, though. We've seen him this believable in the 2013 Her and a year later in 2014's Inherent Vice.
I'd described the film as a quiet, tense whimper on a gloomy, misty night, on an empty street, by a helpless someone who's forgotten the direction back home due to the intense pain from their wounded leg. From the cinematography to the use of silence and dull colours to portray a sombre mood, the film is sure to squeeze a tear or two out of you.
The movie feels like depiction of a drug-induced hallucination. It also sometimes feels like how an anxiety attack or a break down would look and sound internally. I felt almost as though I were inside Joe's head the entire time, exploring his thoughts and his perspective of the world around him.
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