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You Were Never Really Here

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a Gulf War veteran and former FBI agent, lives with his elderly mother and now specialises in saving children from sex rings. When Nina, the daughter of a powerful New York politician, is kidnapped, Joe is contracted to retrieve her. After locating Nina in a New York brothel, Joe’s plan to save her suddenly derails, unleashing a maelstrom of violence that forces Joe to grapple with his personal agonies, which stem both from childhood and the horrors of war.

Tyneside Cinema Programmer, Rachel Pronger on You Were Never Really Here

Is Lynne Ramsay capable of making a film that’s less than astonishing? You Were Never Really Here, a taut, inky-black genre thriller without an ounce of fat, suggests not.

Joaquin Phoenix is captivating as a brutal hitman tasked with rescuing an abducted child in a cruel and corrupt New York. Hunched over and beefed up, with a blank, haunted stare, Phoenix is at once terrifying and tragic, able to convey more pathos with the hunch of his shoulders than most actors can with their whole bodies.

A standard genre movie rescue/revenge set up is elevated by this singular auteur’s signature grasp of visual language and cinematic metaphor. In a Ramsay film dream logic and surrealism sit side by side with the grit and violence of the grubby, blue-lit underworld. Strange hallucinations – a group of teenagers silently weeping, a girl floating in a gloomy lake – linger long under the skin.

BBFC Advice: Contains strong violence, injury detail, child sex abuse theme, language.

Event Information

Running Time: 1hr 29mins

BBFC Advice: 15

Director(s): Lynne Ramsay

Year of release:

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