Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #39 – You Were Never Really Here (2017)

RELEASED: 9th March 2018

DIRECTOR: Lynne Ramsay

CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts, Dante Pereira-Olson, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Pando and Vinicius Damasceno



AWARDS: None (1 BAFTA nomination)

A traumatised veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.


You Were Never Really Here was Lynne Ramsay’s followup feature to 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, adapting Jonathan Ames’s 2013 novel of the same name. The film follows the journey of Joe, a traumatised veteran that works as a hired gun to locate and rescue girls from human trafficking. Joe is assigned a new job to help New York State Senator, Albert Votto, who is offering a large sum of money to discreetly rescue his abducted daughter, Nina. However, the job spirals out of control and as Joe’s nightmares overtake him he becomes caught up in a conspiracy that may lead him to his death or his awakening.


Like We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay has a meticulous amount of precision when it comes to creating this moody, atmospheric character study of a man that’s teetering mentally as he often appears more absent in the present and trapped within his own mind of past traumas, to the point that you’re thinking at any moment his suicidal thoughts may be acted out for real. The direction from Ramsay is terrific as always, particularly in how she shoots the moments in Joe acts violently and how she captures it, sometimes keeping it minimal and yet it is more effective. Well the conspiracy angle is what gives the film momentum, it’s focusing on Joe’s journey as a whole that keeps us engaged and they primarily due to Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in the role. He’s a force of brutal vengeance that brings the ghosts of his previous jobs with him, but still as he’s haunted by his personal demons, we see him caring for his elderly mother in between jobs. Thomas Townend’s cinematography work is excellent here (particularly in the sequence at the lake) and Jonny Greenwood’s score heightens the senses at the right moments.


FAVOURITE SCENE: Joe stakes out the brothel that Nina is being held and and once he finds a way in, he kills several guards and patrons to save her. The way this scene is directed and edited int the style of CCTV footage is very well executed by Lynne Ramsay and Joe Bini.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Do you know what paradise is? Its a lie, a fantasy we create about people and places as we’d like them to be.” – Joe

DID YOU KNOW: Very little violence is shown on screen, but often the aftermath of violence that took place just off screen. Lynne Ramsay stated that before this movie she had never done anything with a gun, so she had to figure out how to approach violence. Budget constraints didn’t allow her to shoot complex action scenes, so this gave birth to the idea to show “post rage aftermath scenes” instead of the violence itself. Lynne Ramsay confessed she thought it was very risky to use this approach, because if it didn’t work she wasn’t able to go back and reshoot the scenes.


One response to “Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #39 – You Were Never Really Here (2017)

  1. Pingback: Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s: The Complete List | Irish Cinephile·

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