You Were Never Really Here tells the story of a deeply troubled hitman who is constantly battling his inner demons. Joe carries out his kills with brutal effect. Seeming to do the work as something to keep him occupied or distract him from his own horrors. He moves from job to job, using the money to take care of his ageing Mother. But things take a sharp turn for the worst when he takes a job for a New York Senator.
The film is written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, who does an amazing job with the camera work. The detail given to the shots creates a dark edgy feel. However, the plot seems to get lost drastically. It is simple to start with, but all of the focus is squarely on the Joe's character. Ramsey seems obsessed with the trauma of the man, which makes the rest of the story totally neglected.
Keeping the film afloat is the tremendous performance from Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix has won Best Actor at multiple awards for this part and thoroughly deserves everyone of them. Pretty much the rest of the cast ends up dead. But the real standout comes from Ekaterina Samsonov, who works brilliantly with Phoenix on screen.
It is fair to say, You Were Never Really Here is an out and out art film. The kind of film that pretentious art critics love to waffle on about the magic in the hidden themes. But for me, You Were Never Really Here could have been much better. It seemed like the film ended up like a mix between Leon and Taxi Driver, but in my opinion, never measures up anywhere near either. Saying that though, if you are looking for a gritty and very dark arthouse movie to watch it is worth watching on your Amazon subscription – see what you think.
You Were Never Really Here is now also available on Netflix UK as well as Amazon Prime.