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.
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.
Running Time: 1hr 29mins
BBFC Advice: 15
Director(s): Lynne Ramsay
Year of release: 2018
Thu 03 Jan
This is part of the The Best of 2018 seasonSee all