REVIEW: You Were Never Really Here

We need to talk about Lynne Ramsay…

Joe is a hired hitman living in New York City who carries out his days rescuing trafficked girls, using the brutalist of methods against those responsible.

Based on the novella by Jonathan Ames, You Were Never Really Here is a noir-type psychological thriller directed by Lynne Ramsay and starring Joaquin Phoenix, which also, just so happens to be, not only the best film I have seen in 2018 but also one of the greatest films I have seen in modern cinema.

I honestly do not want to spoil anything about this film since You Were Never Really Here is best experienced with its audience in the dark; but what I would highlight as necessary information about this film is that it’s brutal, intense and difficult to digest, even for those with iron stomachs. Critics, audiences and people from around the globe have called films like Drive and Nightcrawler the 21st century’s answer to Taxi Driver, but neither of those comparisons truely ring true when You Were Never Really Here enters the fold. Lynne Ramsay, best known for her chilling adaptation of We Need To Talk About Kevin, proves with her newest effort that she may just be the most formidable director working today as every itty-bitty-gritty detail is fully realised, polished and perfected to showcase an artwork that speaks completely through the language of cinema.

(Smith 2018)

With impeccable visuals alone, another Jonny Greenwood score almost nearly steals a show where every moment already deserves a spotlight. The way the score bares down on the picture, standing distinct and almost triumphant over the entire narrative, Greenwood never compromises in his artistic vision, as does Ramsay and an incredible Joaquin Phoenix. And on the point of Phoenix – is the man honestly a chameleon in disguise? Impossibly perfect is Phoenix in every role he takes, and absorbing the character of Joe completely, Phoenix almost certainly peaks. Whether in way of a look, a walk, a spoken word, this is one of the best performances from an actor I have seen all year.

Usually editing (especially editing in the field of sound) can go over my head when watching a film as I almost completely forget how important the craft is when making a film but in You Were Never Really Here, the editing is so stunning and the way the sound is also cut together and works to flawlessly construct the tone for certain scenes is unreal. For the cruelty and horrors Ramsay screens in this film, You Were Never Really Here is a breath of fresh air. A film that commits, body and soul, to telling its story completely through the art of cinema alone without excess dialogue, unnecessary scenes, time wasting characters and dull cliches – finally, here we have a film that honestly does not give a f*** and is concerned only in making the most memorable experience possible.

You Were Never Really Here is, in fact… LOST ART.


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