Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a hired gun that is employed to track down missing girls for a living but when a particular job spins out of control, Joe’s own nightmares and traumatic experiences almost tip him over the edge. As he attempts to track down and rescue Nina Votto (Ekaterina Samsonov), a more complex conspiracy begins to unravel before him. A surprisingly creative and thought-provoking movie that is well worth a watch.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writers: Lynne Ramsay, Jonathan Ames
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov
You Were Never Really Here is an unbelievably deep and intense picture that explores more than just murder mystery as many would assume – it delves superbly well into the portrait of a very dark, lonely and tormented man that is suffering from many things, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) included. Unafraid of violence and his own demise, Joe comes across as a ruthless, cold blooded killer, much to the delight of his employers who task him with tracking down missing and vulnerable young girls, as mentioned previously.
If you go into this expecting a typical hitman movie however, then you’re going to be disappointed. While Joe was extremely skilled at what he was doing, he was also a man with a horrible and haunting past that as the movie developed, you as a viewer began understanding just how unsettled the character was. A large chunk of this character development came from the masterful use of flashbacks – these flashbacks are not given to the viewer in their entirety however, but they are slowly unravelled as the movie stretches on, thus slowly giving a better comprehension of Joaquin Phoenix’s character, the main focus of the flick.
While the movie did have some gruesome and shocking parts throughout, the director decided to shoot the film in such a way that they give the viewer enough screen time to understand what Joe is plotting to do (before eventually doing it), without showcasing every single violent detail. For want of a better expression, this could be seen as a violent film without the violence being the main focus.
In terms of the acting performances, this was certainly Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” audition and he did not disappoint. He was superb throughout and he connected strongly with the other cast members, particularly with the girl he was tasked in saving – Nina. Ekaterina Samsonov portrayed Nina and also did a solid job in the limited screen time she was given.
Interestingly, there are some really complex and thought-provoking theories from other viewers and critics alike, floating around online. For that reason alone (along with many others if needed) I’d encourage anybody to give this movie a go. I don’t think you’ll be left feeling disappointed at all.
“Listen, I don’t know what the fuck’s going on here. I’m just a hired gun…”Joe – You Were Never Really Here