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  • Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a man you hire to track down missing people. Joe is also a skilled ex veteran who is permanently traumatised by his dark past. When Joe works, he walks around with confidence and has no problems using violence in order to get the job done. After getting the job done and collecting his pay, Joe comes home to his elderly mother who he takes care of.

    After completing a recent job, Joe is soon offered a new mission from a New York senator. The mission is to find and rescue the Senator's 13 year old daughter who may have been captured.

    I enjoyed the fact that Joe as a character is no 007. It's clear that while he is skilled, he's also a man with a horrible past, but in the end... he is very capable for any task. To the audience, we feel Joe does what he does to distracts himself or perhaps occupy to his thoughts from dwelling on his own personal hell.

    The film is loaded with tension, but to my surprise it's also all shot beautifully. When Joe is on a mission, we don't do see the smashing and bashing. The director here gives us enough understanding to know what Joe is doing each step of the way without needing to show us every single detail. Other scenes are filmed creatively, allowing us to see Joe's mind and thoughts. These scenes can come across like a dream sequence and viewers might possibly find this slow and boring. Others may lock into what we see of Joe's world and be thankful for how much we get to see of his personal life. For me personally, I loved how creative this film was. Showing different camera angles and Joe's mind in depth only helped me to gain greater understanding of the situation and the characters. Naturally it's these types of moments that also build the suspense!

    From a performance level I loved Joaquin Phoenix. While I understand the actor has kept himself busy on screen, I personally enjoyed his work here more than anything else I've seen of him recently. The actress of the 13 year old victim (actress Ekaterina Samsonov) also acts incredibly and provides perfect screen chemistry with Joaquin Phoenix's character. I personably enjoyed seeing these two work together as the story built up.

    Overall, I found this film rather surprising in a positive way. The film is dark, gritty and loaded with tension as it progresses, but we also gain a greater understanding to Joe's thoughts and his mind. We are given plenty of creative detail thanks to the awesome work from the director. That being said, I feel many will enjoy the film's creativity while others might start to look at their watch during the film. For me, I loved it, and it was great to see something new and fresh in 2018 with yet another solid performance from actor Joaquin Phoenix. Worth a look!


    • Finesse Movie Reviews
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Contains Spoilers:

    What a beautiful piece of art, the good goes against evil in this film. The good being Joe and the bad being a lot of other people. The film has a lot of similarities with Taxi Driver, but while it carries the similarities with itself, it delivers it's own original identity in a flawless way. Lynne Ramsay's script put together with Joaquin Phoenix's performance and Johnny Greenwood's absolutely superb soundtrack, delivers to you one of the most beautiful movies of the decade, for your own and this movie's sake don't jump to conclusions with this one and give it time; for me the movie really took life in the water sequence where Joe tries to commit suicide while drowning his mom's body, but as he is in the middle of drowning he suddenly sees Nina, drowning with him. Noticing that drowning himself would automatically drown Nina too, since she has nobody to save her, and thinking she isn't strong enough to do it herself. He goes back for Nina, he kills the security guards goes inside but sees that Nina saved herself, what he may not notice at that moment was that he was the one who gave her the power to fight back and save herself, but he thinks that he just added another not-so pleasant event to the girls life making her kill someone but she assures him "It's okay Joe, it's okay". Because Joe might not notice it but Nina seems to notice that Joe is a nice guy, actually he is a sweetheart, he holds the hand of the guy that killed her mom when he's dying and is scared, for christ's sake. Both leaves the house not knowing after all of this disturbing events will they be able to just get on with their lives? that thought is seen in the diner, where Joe shoots himself in the head while shedding two tears (a reverse type of De Niro's famous scene at the end of the Taxi Driver where he has a smile on his face a few moments before his death). If the movie ended there, Ramsay would imply that in between all of this darkness there is no brightness, it can't be found. But the movies tricks you, with Nina coming back we understand that Joe's asleep and that scene was simply just a dream, and with Nina's dialogue "Let's go, It's a beautiful day" Joe wonders, maybe it is a beautiful day, maybe he can put the disturbing past of his childhood with his abusive dad and the incidents of his work away. And when he sees that even if there is all of this darkness in this world you can still see the light, because you are the one who has the power and you are the one who chooses and understands without all of this darkness, the brightness would not have any meaning; and he confirms Nina, "It is a beautiful day outside" creating one of the most beautiful endings of cinema. . . . . . . . EDIT: But you know what, that incestuous theory makes sense too...
  • I'm a huge fan of art films. This film is definitely inspired by taxi driver and that's one of the reasons why it caught my attention as I love that movie, but this film is a huge let down. It's not good. The acting is 10/10, the cinematography and camerawork is 10/10, but the plot is horrible and boring. Take blade runner 2049's slow (but awesome) pacing and slow it down, throw in an uninteresting predictable repetitive recycled plot we've seen a billion times which could have been told within 20 minutes, give the main character psychological traumatic issues and show us random crap that's going on in his mind, and you have this movie. It brings nothing new to the table and is done in a way that simply bores you. I love dramas, I know this movie is one, an art drama film, but there Wonder, no suspense, no clever conversations, no anything really. I felt like I was watching a long video demonstrating Joaquin Phoenix's phenomenal acting.

    In a nutshell this film is a drama with your typical basic story line with phenomenal acting that you will forget within a couple of days. I can only recommend it if love movies with beautiful cinematography and are a huge fan of Joaquin Phoenix, but if you're looking for an original unforgettable drama, a crime revenge film, or whatever else you were expecting, I recommend staying away from this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Please beware there may be spoilers.

    I was moved by this movie. As others have said certain aspects seemed weak, the plot for example. The story however was so strong and so badly needed to be told. Phoenix gave such a passionate, all or nothing performance that honestly this is one of my favorite films of his as far as the artistry and acting.

    He connects so strongly with the young girl that its palpable on the screen. This felt so incredibly real, without the fluff that seems to usually come with these types of movies. Injuries seemed realistic, the pain of the characters, the agony of the story. All in all give it a watch if you can handle the subject matter
  • connorcalvert7 November 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    Very many people find the story boring and uninteresting, but don't realize that it is a first-person character study. For times when yo expect a lot of blood shed when he enters sex trafficking hotels and the governor's mansion, very minimal combat is shown. Just like you don't enjoy this and find it boring, the main character, Joe does as well. Joe does not find any of this enjoyable, and when he has to kill the Senator he needs this. So, when he finds the Senator dead, like us being disappointed, he is severely; Joe breaks down. Many people watched this and did not realize the greatness of the movie because they lacked focus, thinking this was just gonna be another typical film.
  • FrostyChud29 November 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    If you thought this was a film about a disturbed loner avenging an innocent, you got snookered.

    The only way to understand YWNRH is through a Freudian lens.

    The theme of this film is not father-daughter incest as it appears, but rather mother-son incest.

    Joe has an incestuous relationship with his mother. "Stay with me a little longer," she says when he puts her to bed. In the next scene, she is trying to cajole him into coming into the bathroom where she is naked. The multiple references to PSYCHO are not a coincidence: this too is the story of a man transformed into a serial murderer by his obscene mother.

    The story proper is nothing is a paranoid delusion: hence the title of the film and the mysterious "invisibility" of the main character.

    The true story: Joe, as a child, is dragged into an incestuous relationship by his mother. His father, whose job ought to be to prevent this regressive fusion, does not have the authority to separate them. He is too violent, too weak, or too absent: we never find out. All we ever see of him is a hand holding a hammer. This scene must be understood as a metaphor. Father discovers their relationship and explodes; as he rages impotently with his hammer, mother and son exchange a complicit glance under the bed. Translation of the mother's wink: "He's impotent. You're still MINE." On mother's credenza is a photo of her as a young and beautiful woman and a photo of her son. Father has been eliminated from the picture.

    Joe rescues abused girls. This is a fantasy. No abused girl ever existed, only an abused boy. Joe invents the story of a girl abused by her father as a displacement of the true abuse: a boy by his mother.

    What actually happens in the movie, and what is fantasy? What actually happens is very simple. Joe murders his mother. Joe commits suicide. Perhaps the homosexual encounter in the sauna and the drugs are true. Everything else is a delusion that he creates to escape from the horror of the truth. In Joe's fantasy, he is a powerful man and not a victim. He has a benevolent father figure (McCleary). He makes ample use of the hammer which appears to be the only trace of a paternal legacy. The Nina character is how Joe sees his mother: as a beautiful, innocent, prohibited object of desire. Joe's delusion is simultaneously an attempt to understand the truth and an attempt to flee the truth. David Lynch uses this technique more explicitly in LOST HIGHWAY, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, and TWIN PEAKS. It is very effective on film and Lynne Ramsay is right to exploit it. In Joe's delusion, the father (represented by the two- dimensional Votto and Williams characters) takes "illegal" possession of his daughter. In reality, this is how the young Joe perceives his father's possession of his mother: as an unbearable crime that must be punished. Did Joe murder his own father? It is possible. Note that in all of Joe's traumatic flashbacks, women are being murdered, not men. These flashbacks are not real. They are irruptions of Joe's deepest fantasy: murder his mother. He never went to Iraq.

    One day, like Ed Kemper, Joe finally kills his mother. He is the one who shot her in the head. To exculpate himself, he flees into an unbelievable political conspiracy fantasy in which all symbolic fathers are pedophile criminals. Why is Joe so protective of his mother's privacy? Because he doesn't want anyone to find out what is going on between them.

    I wasn't sure the director understood her own story until the moment she replaced Joe's sinking mother with Nina. Here she could not be clearer: Nina is just a fantasy screen for Mother.

    In reality, Joe really does shoot himself in the diner. The fantasy of a happy future with Nina is just a screen.

    I have read Jonathan Ames before and the theme of maternal incest is often implied (his fascination for transsexuals is further proof of an Oedipal thematic).

    Good movie.
  • Joachim Phoenix ("Her") is a very intense actor, and fits perfectly here into the role f Joe. For he is a hired thug, available to do over anyone you think deserves dispatching or giving a good telling off. His weapon of choice for this task is a ball-point hammer, bought each time from a local hardware shop. He is a ghost, who drifts in and out of his jobs, face concealed by a hoodie and emanating an air of menace that automatically deflects enquiring eyes.

    When hired by a Senator (Alex Manette) to rescue his wayward daughter Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) from the clutches of a paedophile gang, Joe delivers on the job with gusto, and - you sense - a degree of satisfaction. But then things go from bad to violent worse and Joe is drawn into a deadly high stakes game. As things get more and more personal, Joe embarks on a personal crusade for justice and retribution.

    The real joy of this film is that Joe is such a nuanced character. Yes, he's a brutal thug, but is still living with and loving his aged and demented mother (Judith Roberts), even though she drives him to distraction. He's also clearly damaged himself, with a high degree of OCD behavior exhibited. Via clever flashbacks, we get hints to the route that led the boy to become this damaged man. As a sociopath, when things go wrong he could just say "F*** it" and walk away. But he doesn't. Is this altruism? A sense of professional pride? Or is it the sight of a path to redemption? Although you could strongly argue that revence kicks in to reinforce his decision, Lynne Ramsay's screenplay leaves things deliciously vague. Ramsey also directs expertly: she previously did 2011's "We Need To Talk About Kevin".

    "I don't like gory films" you might say "so this doesn't sound like one for me". Me neither, but actually, the trailer makes the film seem worse than it is. The violence is more alluded to than shown. Most of the "hammer action" is done either in long shot or seen on CCTV cameras, and you don't get to see much of the outcome. There is only one really gory bit that I remember (shut your eyes where Phoenix answers the knock at the hotel door if you are squeamish!).

    This doesn't mean that it's a comfortable watch though. It's an insanely tense film since you're not sure the direction it will go in next (think "Get Out"), and it has more than its fair share of "WTF" moments, especially in a dramatic closing scene. There are some memorable cinematic moments as well: a young girl in a nightie in the paedophile den blankly observing Joe's handiwork being one that stays with you.

    It's a standout film, winning Best Actor (for Phoenix) and best screenplay (for Ramsey) at Cannes. It will be in a strong position to make my films of the year list. Highly recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film is framed with montages of apparently overheard conversations, chat with no apparent purpose, theme or coherence. If there is meaning to that collection it is elusive, especially when so many phrases are indecipherable. That also describes the film, a powerful but elusive narrative centred on a compelling, damaged hero. Ex-GI Joe completes a mission to retrieve a senator's 13-year-old daughter Nina from sexual enslavement. But it's not quite a character study and it is too enigmatic for a clearly defined thriller. I'd call it an expression of the spirit of the age, especially as it references today's callous nexus of sexual and political exploitation in America. It's the perspective of Scottish writer/director Lynne Ramsay. A governor seeking re-election wastes many lives to recapture his favourite sex slave, the underage Nina. That corruption costs the lives of his supportive senator friend (Nina's father), along with Joe's boss, Joe's contact, Joe's frail mother and several incidental thugs. While sensitively caring for his mother, Joe slips in and out of memories of his traumatic past, both as a Gulf War soldier and as the victim of an abusive father. His physical scars point to his psychological. His bare-chested scenes show Joe to be a massive physical presence, not muscular but bulky. His build is augmented by the bulk the beard gives the already intense Joaquin Phoenix. It leaves him virtually no face to read. Joe's physical bulk is the opposite to Nina's pre-pubescent frailty. But they share a common absence. Paradoxically, the very physical Joe is "never really here." He is emotionally detached from his existence, paralyzed by the past traumas which he has attempted to flee in self-asphyxiation. Similarly, Nina retreats into the silence and removal of a drugged stupor so she is "never really here" either. Both Joe and Nina count backwards as if their retreat from consciousness were anesthetically induced. Telling details abound. In a miniature of Joe's emotional confusion, he finds a green jelly-bean, his favourite, then crushes it. Buried in a lake, his mother's long white hair escape the bag and float elegantly underwater. To bury her, Joe - suit and all - fills his pockets with rocks to deliver her to the bottom of the lake. The pedophile governor fingers the furnishings of a toy dollhouse, even setting in motion a rocker (like the one he's off?). His luxurious mansion has a classical painting of a seductive woman with one breast exposed. The classical art is a cover for male-centred pornography, as the exposed woman is a cover for his obsession with the flat-chested girl. The violence is both ubiquitous and tempered. Most of Joe's assaults are off-camera or shown obliquely through a security system. But we see him rip out a painful tooth, bloodying himself. As they chat, his agent litters his desk with tissues bloodied from his nose. In this world breathing means blood. In this lawless America the only police we see are the ones who steal Nina from Joe, killing the hotel manager and Joe's connections. The governor has the power to commit and to hide his corruption. An elected government official assumes he is above the law - and his officials support that warping. (It's only a movie. Right.) If the villainy is current America so is the trace of hope. The big macho hero doesn't save this day. The small abused teenage girl does. This is Me Too with a vengeance - and a political impact. After Joe entertains the despair of suicide, she returns trim and possessed and takes command: "Let's go." The last shot is of the diner table Nina and Joe vacated. It's an image of calm, symmetry, a pallid assurance a world away from all the film's splattering. The victims have survived, escaped, saved themselves. As America yet may.
  • Just had me fed up about half way through. Really tried to like it. The shots were needlessly artsy and the music score often inappropriate. One could gild the lily all day with this and try to make it into something deeper than it is. In the end I just felt like fastforwarding it. Pretentious and ultimately painful to finish.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Saw the film yesterday at the Athens International Film Festival, with Lynne Ramsay in attendance.

    With its strong experimental elements, at some point this film comes really close to being a masterpiece, and it's undoubtedly the definition of narrative economy. For what its worth, the abrupt ending left me wanting more, although a circle had obviously been closed (still, there was plenty of more to see in the character, now that he was... "really here" and actually conscious).

    Phoenix is absolutely brilliant as the disillusioned protagonist who is tormented by his past, and now hits back at the cruel and violent world that haunted him. He should get an Oscar nomination at the very least.

    "You Were Never Really Here" is a great mix of reality and delusion, driven by the central character's recurring past traumatic experiences. Perpetuation of violence in a cynical world is the main theme, and it's depicted in a very inspired and original way thanks to the top notch direction and spectacular photography (some stylish scenes are able to convey powerful feelings and messages in a far more effective way than a conventional narration would ever do).

    When the tension escalates, this slow-burn psychological/revenge thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat; the skillful use of editing and music really help on that aspect.

    Ramsay was fun, down to earth and answered many questions afterwards.
  • Joaquin Phoenix stars in, You Were Never Really Here, a movie that beckons memories of Taxi Driver. It's an apt comparison since the two movies are deep character examinations, and Phoenix's character in this film, Joe, certainly shares similarities with Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro's famous taxi driver.

    The two men both have traumatic pasts that inflicted irreparable damage on their mental health, and both men currently live unsatisfying lives. The main difference is that Travis Bickle attempted to make an honest living driving a taxi for a time before he, well, you can watch the movie and find out what he did. But, Joe's way of making a living is unlawful from the beginning of the film. However, he did initially attempt a lawful career years before the film's opening scene. I'll get there.

    Joe is a hired gun whose job is to hunt down missing girls, bring them back, and punish those that captured them. It's work not for the feint of heart. When asked if his methods are rough, Joe replies, "I can be." He's being modest.

    Joe brutally disarms, injures, and kills anyone standing in the way of his missions. His preferred weapon: a ball peen hammer.

    Despite all the killing, he's not a bad guy. He cares for his elderly and often confused mother. The work he does, while often gruesome and heavy on killing, is for what most would agree is a good cause. Few could retrieve the girls the way Joe does and even fewer would be willing to do so.

    Joe takes no joy in any of his work. He takes no joy in any of his life. He continues forward out of some sense of duty. He fantasizes often about suicide and attempts on occasion, only stopping when he remembers his mother or the girls in need of help.

    He often experiences vivid flashbacks and fantasies that blur the lines between what's real and not. The audience doesn't always know, and Joe doesn't always seem so sure either.

    He's constantly haunted by memories of his past as a child, a soldier, and an FBI agent. Each phase of his life left him scarred physically and emotionally. Phoenix is one of the most enigmatic, fascinating, and excellent actors of the past 20 years. It's hard to imagine other actors pulling off a performance like this one. He deserves commendation for his work, as does director Lynne Ramsay.

    Fair warning: the movie is occasionally brutally violent and is often very confusing. It's not for everyone.
  • You could read the novella (much better than the movie) in less time it takes to watch this clunky, utterly pretentious film.

    Tick, tick, tick. I kept waiting for something to happen as the beginning of the film rolled past me like a horrifyingly boring catechism class. There is literally about six minutes of action in the entire film, the rest is tedious nonsense. Would it have killed the director to throw us a bone somewhere before the movie is one third of the way over? Flashbacks to nowhere, taking care of the old and feeble-minded, and lots of slowness, very slow. Someone needs to learn about pacing.

    When we finally get to the heart of the matter--and it takes forever and doesn't last long--the camera is third rate and the action is fuzzy because the director is trying to make some sort of art film from ultra-violence which is a little like playing classical music with a kazoo.

    Just because an actor is fat, hairy, and mumbles doesn't mean he's putting in a stellar performance: just because the viewer has no freaking idea of what is going on doesn't mean the director is doing something admirable. It's not that we're too stupid to understand what you're trying to say; it's that we don't care. Once again, a director seems to have forgotten that films are supposed to be entertainment. Should appeal to folks who think that if a film makes no sense it must be deep.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to understand and believe in the IMDb User Rating. The disappointing "You Were Never Really Here" is one example of an overrated film. Professional critics are opinion makers that serve as models to viewers that follow like sheep their opinions. This attitude might explain the IMDB User Rating.

    With regard to "You Were Never Really Here", the storyline is confused; the lead character is poorly developed; the screenplay is awful; the pace is boring. Therefore, it is hard to accept the 7.1 rating. My vote is three.

    Title (Brazil): "You Were Never Really Here"
  • Warning: this review will excessively use the adjective "phenomenal". Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. Phenomenally directed, acted and written. This phenomenal indie thriller will leave you breathless. An incredibly rare achievement to leave me hypnotised long after the credits roll, but Lynne Ramsay's latest intrusive yet intimate character study did that and then some. Centralising on Joe, a war veteran suffering from PTSD, who accepts a job to retrieve a politician's kidnapped daughter from a brothel. However in doing so, he risks the safety of his mother and his own life. This showcases Ramsay's supremely defiant directing style. Every scene, every camera movement and every little detail is a finely tuned mechanism to a large machine. The entire picture exudes confidence, such bold directing choices that elevates this above other indie titles. The visceral violence and bleak events that occur create several thrilling moments, but the palpable tension is illustrated through the character of Joe. A damaged man addicted to pain killers to deal with his hallucinogenic illusions that tamper with his sanity. Ramsay's screenplay never belittles him into an unlikeable state, the behests he accepts actually retains his humanity whilst portraying the excessive violence. All phenomenally played by Joaquin Phoenix who many consider to be one of the best actors working today. With this, I completely agree. Dialogue is kept to a minimum yet the amount of expression just from his face and body language was phenomenal. Jonny Greenwood's unsettling and intrusive score only adds to the heightened state of mind that the narrative conveys. Just utterly enthralling. My eyes never left the screen once. The ambiguous ending was the icing on the cake, solidifying its indie origins. Beautiful and horrific simultaneously. A perfect juxtaposition that illustrates the themes and technical talent conveyed through this phenomenal film. It gets the second perfect rating of the year. Cannot recommend this enough.
  • When I read on the posters « The Taxi Driver Of The XXI Century » I put it immediately on my watch-list; well, after seeing the movie, the comparison is almost blasphemy. Despite the strong performance delivered by Phoenix and the good cinematography, the movie is a total downer. Instead of a plot, what you have is a series of disjointed fragments which you try desperately to make sense of, but the task is hopeless. To add to it, as if it were needed, the director injects more fragments of flashbacks which hardly relate to anything happening in the present. Maybe I just grossly missed the whole thing, but I found this an irritating piece of self- indulgent cinema.
  • rubenm17 October 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    It's hard to review this film without mentioning 'Taxi Driver'. Both films are about disillusioned war veterans, moving through the urban jungle, loathing the decadence of modern society, and rescuing a young girl from a brothel. Also, both films feature an aspiring politician during an election campaign. It's simply impossible to ignore so many similarities. But it's extremely difficult, not to say impossible, to make a film that can stand up to the iconic Scorsese classic.

    Joe, a silent war veteran played by Joaquin Phoenix, specializes in difficult operations like rescuing young girls who have run into trouble. So he doesn't hesitate when an influential politician asks him to search for his daughter. The man doesn't want to involve the police, because he fears for his reputation.

    Finding the girl turns out to be remarkably simple. But after having saved her by violently eliminating everyone standing in the way, things go wrong. There is more violence, more blood and more killing. In the end, Joe seems to emerge victoriously, but there is nothing to be happy about. 'Where do you want to go?', he asks the saved girl. 'I don't know', she says. 'I don't know either', is the desperate sounding answer.

    Lynn Ramsay explains Joe's state of mind by inserting lots of short flashes, sometimes almost subliminal. It adds to the general mood of darkness and looming danger. All kinds of unpleasant things are going on, but Joe nor the viewer know exactly what. The only way to deal with it, is with ruthless violence.

    But is this one man rescue mission enough to carry a whole film? I have my doubts. The first time Joe rescues the girl, the action is filmed in a very original way. We see everything happening through the images of the surveillance cameras in the building. This is exciting cinema. But at the end, Joe is filmed in a conventional way while slowly moving through a large villa, suspecting danger around every corner. This is a scene like so many similar scenes from other movies.

    After leaving the cinema, I felt I had seen a bit too much violence and too little storytelling. But without doubt, this is a personal feeling: perhaps the lack of story elements is what makes this film stand out from others.
  • Pretentious, boring, overly reflective, and clearly aimed at film buffs who will no doubt find all sorts of "references" in this film. Unfortunately, the end product was a very tedious experience in trying to stay awake.
  • What a shame. Quite stylish. Great camera shots. But that alone does not make a good film. It's boring and frustrating. So much effort was put into trying to make it look stylish but it was boring, slow and lacking in story and dialogue.

    Throughout the film the emphasis is on style and cinematography and a lot of the shots are quite impressive but it's not clever or captivating. It's boring.
  • 'You Were Never Really Here (2018)' is a dark, disturbing but discreet piece, one that's as off-kilter and uncomfortable as it is subdued. It's this remarkable restraint that allows its undercurrent of explosive violence, seedy deviance and childhood traumas to be all the more shocking and genuinely effecting when they erupt from the relative calm on the screen. It's an amazingly atmospheric and difficult watch that doesn't hold your hand, so that if you aren't always fully engaged then you may not wholly grasp the almost exposition-less plot. The explicit, brutally jarring flashes of a past narrative paint a picture of an incredibly wholistic implicit story, without filling in every blank, in an incredibly gripping way, leaving you to wallow in the head of a severely damaged individual and think about the experience for long after the credits have rolled. 8/10
  • The Scottish director, Lynne Ramsay, made a very quiet and disturbing film. Most of Lynn's movies have that quiet side, as in a movie, "We need to talk about Kevin". and that's what gives her films a magical visual character, and make you enjoy it. this film talk about the "Joaquin Phoenix" the killer hack, who tries to save a little girl, and lives with his old mother, and very fun. The basic story of the film is simple, but beyond the details, colors, and tranquility, there is another world of psychological and historical exhaustion suffered by Joaquin. the stages of his childhood, which was somehow harsh, and created this man. Joaquin swung between the desire to live and suicide for salvation, and it lasts for the duration of the film, even the last scene, Ramsey's making a moment, that Joaquin shoots his head, then we find out he was fancy dying. The film makes the viewer tense of psychologically and visually, and that's its magnificence. addition to the many details created by the actors and their dialogues, especially "Joaquin, Judith". The film is great, I loved it.
  • This film is an over hyped mess, and any references to the 1970's classic taxi driver, are false. I felt cheated by the poster's claim in the cinema, as it is best described as a blatant lie. The story here is a muddle, and as the story unfolds, the viewer risks losing interest. I found myself falling asleep during the film, and struggled to understand what on earth was going on. Phoenix was excellent , but a good performance by an actor won't save a film! Enough said !!!!!!!!
  • Film4 / BFI collaboration

    This is an art-house, violent, action, thriller with a beating soundtrack.

    Adapted from Jonathan Ames's novel of a broken and tormented ex-military vigilante played by Joaquin Phoenix, hired to rescue a girl from a sex ring.

    Gripping and dark, this is a different kind of action film. To begin with Phoenix's character resembles an icy Liam Neeson 'Taken' character, but slowly we see flashbacks that imply he had an abused childhood, the character and story skilfully develop to only ever be implied. But not only brutal violence, Phoenix also shows some emotional, tender moments when highlighting scenes involving his mother.

    I like dialogue heavy films, but Phoenix gives an intense performance of a character with very little to say. However, his actions and expressions speak volumes.

    The themes explored are: Revenge, torment, abuse, brutal violence, pedophilia and suicide.
  • This film may draw some crass and unwarranted comparisons with Taxi Driver, but very much in the spirit of a review of this film in the Time's newspaper which lauded much praise, this isn't that movie. This is a film that intends to be substantial without actually having much substance so in some respect it is quite contemporary. The protagonist walks around with a hammer hurting bad people. Of course theres way more to it than that, but is there really? On a visual level this is a picture that easily holds its own and some, the ponderous direction doesn't quite become pretentious and there is a coherent aesthetic. Yet the film's reception doesn't seem fair considering what is on offer. The telegraph called it a film that will blow you away, yeah, one slow shot at a time.
  • Eiriksterminator9 March 2018
    Very boring movie. There's barely anything happening, and it moves at a snail's pace. More importantly though, there is no mystery, and no suspense, the two key things you need in a mystery-thriller, if you're even going to be able to call it that. There's very little dialogue as well.

    There is no action either, and I don't know what some people are talking about when they say it is violent, you don't get to see any graphic violence what so ever, since in the only few cases where someone has suffered brutal violence, they are already dead. You don't actually see it happen. In other cases, some violence is shown, but they don't show any of the effects, or it is shown off-screen, or even through an in-movie surveillance camera...There is one short struggle between two people, and one instance of one guy shooting two people (which is shown off-screen, though the effetcs are shown afterwards), and one instance of one guy headbutting another guy. That's it. Everything else is, like I said, either off-screen, seen through a surveillance camera, or it's just an instance of coming across someone who has already been killed.

    With no suspense, no mystery, virtually no action, very little dialogue, and a very slow pace, this becomes very boring very quickly...There is a little bit of drama at least, but I can't fathom why this movie is rated so highly...Must be because of the topic and morals that are being looked at in the movie I guess...I guess movie critics don't want to be entertained when watching a movie, they just want a movie that has a message or a resolution they like, not caring how the movie gets there, or what happens along the way...

    I'm not sure what rating to give this movie, so I'm not going to give it one. All I know is this movie was incredibly dull for me. I feel like the time I spent watching it was a real waste...
  • Fourth feature from the button-pushing Lynne Ramsay, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE pits Joaquin Phoenix's emotionally blocked veteran Joe against a sordid child prostitution ring, meanwhile he is also seeking an outlet from the besetting trauma of his checkered past.

    It is a gut-wrenching story on paper, but Ramsay configures sundry conceits to present a "reductive" diorama of the events, and the most prominent one is the viewpoint, which never deflects from Joe, hence signifies that there will be no lengthy flashback sequences to inform us what he has experienced (as a child, a soldier, etc.), only through the transient fragments of memory incessantly penetrating into Joe's heads, audience can piece it together proximately, but never the full picture, because for once, we don't need to know it, what is at stake here is its traumatic after effect.

    Secondly, Lamsay flags up a bloated/beefed-up Phoenix's body metamorphosis, which brings about the corporeal testimony of what he has been suffering from, transferred through Ramsay's hyper-real observation (scars, bruise, etc.). Joe's knee-jerking coping mechanism towards the bane is self-suffocation, a leitmotif repeatedly wielded to induce our own gasping response, resounds hauntingly with the self-initiated count-down of Nina (Samsonov), the girl whom Joe is hellbent on rescuing from her pedophiliac abusers. Phoenix won BEST ACTOR is Cannes (along with Ramsay's script win), deservedly, his performance is arrestingly measured, profoundly unaffected but deeply affecting, because he invites us to care for Joe, a laconic, middle-aged, mom's boy, a damaged good whose weapon of choice is a hammer, he makes good as a brutal enforcer, using violence to repress his disturbed state, which is caused by violence/abuse itself, it is a vicious circle he cannot outrun, and we can pour out our sympathy to him when a bereft Joe decides to end his life in the lake (with the sublimely beauteous underwater stillness) before thinks better of it or near the denouement, a startled figment of his imagination prompts a perversely comical/shocking combo.

    Last but not the least, it is about how Ramsay choose to present its action of brutality, and she ingeniously points up its "aftermath" instead of showing the actual execution (during his first rescuing attempt inside a high-end New York apartment building, Joe's action is entirely captured by the fuzzy security camera), violence itself is ephemeral, what lingers behind is its aftermath, tangible, grisly and immutable. When Joe finally loses it after seeing what Nina has done (a big letdown to fans of Alessandro Nivola though), it is a scathing brickbat towards the state of affairs without the help of conventional verbosity, and inaugurates Joe's mental ablutions of his own existence.

    In the event, Ramsay's clean-cut, existential thriller owns to a lucid consciousness of its sensitive material, brilliant aptitude in its visual and sound literacy, also the film allows humor (a sprightly Judith Roberts as Joe's dotage-afflicted mother, sharing meta-PSYCHO joke in communion), and psychic vision (that moment when Joe realizes who is the culprit in his mind-scape) into the play, the main takeaway for me is the unexpected tendresse between Joe and a hit-man he has mortally injured (Price), lying together on the floor, humming along Charlene's '80s one-hit-wonder I'VE NEVER BEEN TO ME on the radio, and holding their hands, is the song really the answer to the film's English title? You were never really here and I've never been to me, either. Touché!
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