Lynne Ramsay's YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
A Movie Review by Dennis D. McDonald
Traumatized ex military Joe now makes a living recovering missing girls. He has a well deserved reputation for dispensing brutal justice along the way.
An ambitious state senator hires him to recover his missing 13 year old daughter. We follow Joe as he tracks her down through squalor and luxury while popping pills to maintain himself -- barely -- on this side of sanity.
Just considering the above outline you would be forgiven for thinking that what we have here is a standard revenge thriller that could star a Mel Gibson, Charles Bronson, Jason Statham, or even Liam Neeson.
What director Ramsay gives us instead is an incredibly stylish and thoughtful mystery and character study as well as a performance by Joaquin Phoenix as Joe that is nothing short of phenomenal. He wears his character like a skin tight suit. Ramsay then photographs and edits the film with stunning attention to dramatic yet naturalistic detail.
What I found most impressive was how Phoenix portrays Joe's mental state. I put this performance -- and this movie -- right up there with Paul Schrader's First Reformed as one of the best I've seen so far this year. Together these two films give me confidence that serious artistic and challenging movie drama is alive and well. Highly recommended.
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald