You Were Never Really Here is a thriller film released in 2017. It was written and directed by Lynne Ramsay and is also based on a novella by Jonathan Ames. Joaquin Phoenix is in the lead as some private mercenary known as Joe, who specializes in retrieving young girls who were kidnapped and trafficked. The cast also includes Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Judith Roberts, and Alessandro Nivola.
So, the mysterious Joe is a dude with a lot of violent trauma in his past. He was abused by his father, he joined the military and saw combat, and was also some kind of government agent. He apparently does freelance work that involves finding girls who were taken to be trafficked. He also doesn’t have much concern for the civil rights of these perpetrators and indulges in some pretty brutal revenge. Anyway, a state senator’s daughter has fallen victim to a ring of kidnappers, and Joe is let off the leash. He succeeds in finding the girl, after leaving a plethora of bodies in his wake. However, the aftermath follows him home. He has to find the girl yet again when a couple of phony cops haul her off again.
The film has an intriguing premise, and who doesn’t like watching kidnappers and weirdos getting their heads cracked by traumatized yet noble warrior? The film got some acclaim from the Cannes Film Festival 2017, in which brings us to the other dropped shoe. It’s one of these films that often appears disjointed and does not make a whole lot of sense at times. Some aspects have been compared to Taxi Driver, and I get where that is coming from. Joe is a little too brooding for my taste. Phoenix does fine in the performance as he usually does in some of these weirder roles. He is the guy to pull this off. I didn’t really like this one much. This may have worked better in the original work. Joe was a little too weird at times. I think the sudden scene changes and flashbacks were a little too jarring. I had to work a little too hard to piece together Joe’s past, and I lost interest in that fairly quickly.
It’s safe to say that this is not one I will be revisiting anytime soon.