You Were Never Really Here – Review
by Daniel Mohr
Although miles away from anyone’s definition of a classical narrative film, You Were Never Really Here is a truly extravagant, original, weird and by all means brutal piece of cinema among all other current releases. Its story is simple and familiar to many other thrillers, as it follows a man with a troubled and disturbing past (Joaquin Phoenix), who’s hired to find and safely return the kidnapped daughter of a senator. The way he does his job, however, is a different chapter altogether, as he mercilessly and methodically hammers his way through anyone who stands in his way.
It comes soon into the film that the story was not exactly director Lynne Ramsay’s main priority. Instead, she focused on creating a strongly atmospheric cinematic experience through mesmerising visuals and an impressive use of music, both making the film (despite the depicted horrific events) stylistically beautiful. The film’s greatest virtue, however, is Phoenix’s phenomenal performance, as he completely transforms into the role of a dangerous and mysterious man for hire, which happens to be one of his career’s most believable and best performances on screen.
Granted, for many it will be a challenging and disturbing film; for others, an uninteresting story about a strange guy doing some really strange stuff. But, for a few, You Were Never Really Here will be an innovative artistic masterpiece touching on some controversial themes in a very unique style and, for better or worse, an unforgettable film experience for everyone.