You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here

Amazon Film
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You Were Never Really Here follows Joe, a hitman tracks down missing girls for a living. While Phoenix is incredible gain, the movie is just too focused on the character, losing the plot in more ways than one.

In You Were Never Really Here, director Lynne Ramsay crafts a visceral, haunting portrayal of a man on the fringes of society, toeing the line between redemption and damnation.

Based on the 2013 Jonathan Ames novella, it stars Joaquin Phoenix in a performance of exceptional depth navigating the labyrinthine corridors of trauma, violence, and fleeting humanity.

It's a film that defies easy categorisation, choosing instead to immerse its audience in a sensorial experience that is as unsettling as it is engrossing.

What Is You Were Never Really Here About?

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix, Napoleon) is a grizzled combat veteran turned hitman, who makes a living rescuing young girls or missing girls who have been trafficked in the sex trade. His method is brutally efficient.

Hammer in hand, he dispatches justice with an emotional detachment that seems both necessary and tragic. But Joe's life is far from straightforward.

His past traumas, abusive childhood and current responsibilities to his ailing mother blur the lines between his roles as a caretaker and a killer.

When a New York politician hires him to rescue his teenage daughter Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) from a sex trafficking ring, Joe embarks on what seems like a routine mission.

However, the job spins out of control and he soon finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that goes far beyond a simple rescue operation.

The storyline unravels in a nonlinear, fragmented manner, offering glimpses into Joe's shattered psyche and weaving them into the present-day narrative.

Amidst a cacophony of violence and betrayal, Joe's relationship with Nina becomes the emotional fulcrum of the story.

Their connection offers fleeting moments of tenderness in an otherwise bleak world, hinting at the possibility of redemption for both.

Ramsay's visual storytelling, often communicated through close-ups and disjointed cuts, serves to amplify the isolation and fragmentation experienced by the characters.

The film culminates in an unsettling climax, raising questions about the cycle of violence and the possibility of salvation.

But rather than offering easy answers, You Were Never Really Here leaves viewers to confront their own notions of morality, justice, and humanity.

You Were Never Really Here Official Trailer

Is You Were Never Really Here Worth Watching?

Writer-director Lynne Ramsay masterfully crafts each scene to serve as both a narrative device and a psychological window into the characters. The pacing, camera work, and editing are tightly synchronized to keep the audience engaged yet uncomfortable.

With another typically committed lead performance, Joaquin Phoenix is extraordinary. Capturing the complex emotional landscape of a man at war with himself, his physical transformation for the role adds yet another layer of authenticity.

The score by Jonny Greenwood adds a hauntingly beautiful layer to the film, effectively becoming another character in this dark tale. The use of sound and silence is impeccable, emphasizing the film's intense, often claustrophobic atmosphere.

So while there's a lot to like about You Were Never Really Here, it isn't entirely perfect. While the fragmented storytelling adds to the film's enigmatic quality, it can also make the plot difficult to follow at times.

As a viewer, this approach can often be disorienting and confusing rather than engaging.

Plus, aside from Joe, most characters in the movie lack depth and backstory. It would have been nice to have more context or emotional investment in secondary characters like Nina to properly round out the story.

Otherwise, this is another cracker from Phoenix and one that is well worth a watch on Amazon Prime Video.

Cast Of You Were Never Really Here

Joaquin Phoenix (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot) as Joe, a former marine and hired gun who takes on jobs rescuing girls from human trafficking

  • Dante Pereira-Olson as Young Joe

Ekaterina Samsonov as Nina Votto

Alex Manette as Senator Votto

John Doman as John McCleary

Judith Roberts as Joe's Mother

Alessandro Nivola as Governor Williams

Frank Pando as Angel

Vinicius Damasceno as Moises


  • Dark And Gritty
  • Amazing Performance From Joaquin Phoenix
  • Great Cinematography


  • Forgotten Plot
  • Obsessive Focus On One Character
  • Weak Ending


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