A PTSD suffering army veteran, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) now works as a hired gun involved in rescuing trafficked girls. His handler John McLeary (John Doman) informs him about his next assignment where he’d be required to rescue Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), the daughter of Senator Albert Votto (Alex Manette).
Will Joe be able to save Nina? What will be the consequences of his actions? Does he know whom he’d be fighting against as a result of this case?
Positive Points: –
- Joaquin Phoenix’s stupendous performance as he powers the film all alone with his in-depth act.
- A lot of excellent filmmaking techniques incorporated throughout, that can be learnt by studying this film properly.
- The movie touches on certain humane aspects of life which you might like.
Negative Points: –
- The minimal thrill factor that makes the flick tedious even within 90 minutes of runtime.
- The overt forcible attempts to make the film more artistic and in the pursuit of which, the entertainment is compromised. The movie presents the emotional and psychological distress of Joe unabashedly but rarely tries to make the connection with the audience regarding the same.
- A lot of things happen too easily on the premise with little or no challenge to the protagonist.
- Botched up makeup and special effects.
Direction, Script & Other Technicalities: –
Lynne Ramsay may be popular for her out-of-the-box approach to filmmaking which is largely appreciable, but that doesn’t necessarily make her work interesting. Sorry for being blasphemous to most moviegoers but the only thing that captivates me about Ramsay’s flicks are their titles. Surely her supervision brings in some excellent technical contributions but the pursuit of artistic pleasure shouldn’t mar the enjoyment a film can offer. On one hand, Ramsay’s storyline offers nothing unique, and even though her screenplay delves deep into Joe’s character, it adds nothing much to the cinematic experience of the feature except more runtime and more monotony. That can be understood by the fact that even in a stipulated runtime, You Were Never Really Here is soporific. It starts absurdly, proceeds absurdly and skips out a lot of potential character developments and interactions especially that of Joe and Nina. Even though the protagonist is harassed in a number of ways, the chances of many direct face-offs have been omitted. Furthermore, a lot of things seem rather implausible including the ease with which Joe survives and escapes every time, the execution of fight sequences and even the blood and injuries (remember my remark on bad makeup and special effects!).
On the technical side, You Were Never Really Here is a gem. Its unconventional camera work by Thomas Townend, tight edits by Joe Bini, and a pretty well-inducted background score ameliorate its cinematic experience to a certain extent. I strongly believe that this flick can make up for a good film school case study when it comes to technicalities but I wish I could extend the same view for the film entirely as well.
Joaquin Phoenix shines as always and not just because he is a terrific actor, but also due to the fact that he was the centre-of-attraction of the entire feature as others got blatantly ignored in terms of development. Nonetheless, with his sensible performance, Phoenix efficaciously manifests as to why he is considered to be among the greatest 21st-century actors of Hollywood by many cinematic pundits.
While most other actors do fairly well with their respective characters, Ekaterina Samsonov’s portrayal of Nina outshines everyone else. She exhibits the intricacies of her character with sheer maturity and perfection and supports Phoenix ably when they share the screen together.
Final Verdict: –
I can bear comedies which ain’t funny, romantic movies which ain’t romantic and even mysteries with nothing to intrigue, but a thriller that doesn’t thrill never goes well with me. It’s ballsy to attempt an artistic thriller but when that compromises the riveting nature of the movie and hence it’s entertainment potential, it becomes a case of distaste for moviegoers like me (yeah and I take all the blame for it!). Art and entertainment can go hand in hand with neither being compromised but that’s not the case here. If we can criticise commercial movies for not being artistic then we should also criticise movies like this for trying to be too artistic. You Were Never Really Here has its highs in terms of acting and technicalities but that doesn’t make it any interesting to the general audience.