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You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay

Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar) returns to our screens for the first time since 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Her new film, You Were Never Really Here is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and at times it almost seems to be inventing a new cinematic language. It’s brutal and violent yes, but not without purpose or plan. The lofty comparisons being made between this film and Taxi Driver are, we think, entirely justified.

"...a compelling, challenging and ultimately rewarding watch."

Joaquin Phoenix is Joe, a former Marine and FBI agent who is now a gun for hire, willing to tackle any situation outside the law. Carrying his own demons both mentally and physically, Joe is a man who lives in a reality which is worse than your darkest nightmare, earning his living rescuing women who have been kidnapped into the sex trade. His latest case is to track down Nina Votto (newcomer Ekaterina Samsonov), the missing daughter of a New York senator. Like a hulking old dog with a bone, Joe pursues every lead to save the girl, but soon realises this assignment is just the tip of the iceberg, opening the door to a much larger and more horrifying world.

Corruption, abuse and revenge are all familiar tropes, but Ramsay elevates this story with the sheer craft and artistry of her storytelling. Phoenix is mesmerising, giving a blistering physical performance we haven’t seen from him since Gus Van Sant’s To Die For. With an atmospheric electronic score by Jonny Greenwood meshing perfectly with Thomas Townend’s complex visuals, You Were Never Really Here is a compelling, challenging and ultimately rewarding watch.