Ramsay has crafted a deep psychological adaptation of the Ames novel in which the viewer even has to question their own experience and interpretation of the events unfolding due to the mental anguish of the lead character who is an unreliable narrator at best. Anchored by a magnificent performance by Phoenix and amazing editing (especially sound) and score (by Greenwood). The abrupt ending works in films favour.
[We Need to Talk About Lynne Ramsay] Léon meets Drive with Animé-like blood-thirst. In my world, and for my money, Joaquin Phoenix is the actor the film-world can't ever lose. The emperor of underrated actors. Sorry Day Lewis, you won't be missed. Hopefully someone will employ its eyes to see this performance and recognize this guy as one of the top 5 actors working now. Lynne's directing? Shiiiit, I'm with her FL ♥
Ceases to be derivative of obvious influences but Ramsay could be more pressed to create something cohesive (ironically) out of the abstract, which I wish was explored as much through image as it was sound. Brief attempts at textural sensuality werent give enough space to resonate & this seemed like more of an exercise in editing/purposely bucking expectations only to fall back into place. See Reichardt's Night Moves
Most films in which we witness a protagonist's slow mental descent follow their character until they reach some kind of breaking point; "You Were Never Really There" feels like it starts there. Lynne Ramsay draws another tremendous performance out of Joaquin Phoenix (surely the best actor of his generation), and crafts a "Taxi Driver" for the 21st century - digital, ugly, and steeped in an all-consuming paranoia.
It is easy to have great affection for this film with all the grimy documentary like-little details such as gobbled jellybeans and the mother singing but what is amazing is how deep inside the character this actor-director collaboration went and how human it became.
The title of YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE informs you that nothing in the movie is really happening in any kind of reality. As far as shooting, cutting, sounds design, mise-en-scène, and the direction of actors and action go, this is positively superlative. Extraordinary comes-down-to-it filmmaking. It is a little gross in ways deeper than might be obvious. Subject matter, sure, but more the handling of it. Aftertaste.
This is one gut wrenching rollercoaster of a film. Lynne Ramsay is an incredibly skilled filmmaker who crafts an intense thriller but opts to focus more on the internal mental struggle of the protagonist, brought to agonizing life by the brilliant Joaquin Phoenix, who continues to etch his name into the greatest of all time, instead of an elaborate plot. This is true filmmaking right here.
Heavy set Phoenix might be my favorite Phoenix yet, but that's not enough to make this homage to the '60s and '70s nihilistic/political thrillers a la Point Blank and Night Moves compelling. Ramsey has indeed a unique voice, and her experimentations in the editing room should be respected, yet they come across as wild tangents that never really come together in satisfying or rewarding fashion.