Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here” takes some inspiration in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” Both have the same material from its character, psychological, ambiguity, alienation, veteran, and justice. Themes like this aren’t new anymore because they are often taking in any films. Speaking of eternity, it always creates a reciprocal paradox of what the term means. It’s a subjective thing that can be taken from any perspective where there are pros and cons. I love “Taxi Driver” because the film has the nuances of describing the dark side of society. In addition, there is the other side of government and exploiting underage sex.
Oft, these films never bore me on films with anti-hero themes or others. Society throws away such people. In fact, no. I emphasized, “You Were Never Really Here” certainly contains a lot of views from the audience. The movie is appalling differently like “Taxi Driver” or others. This is one of the best yet misspelling movies about justice.
It’s based on a novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames. “You Were Never Really Here” tries to correct our view of what the true meaning of justice is. The film takes Joe’s perspective played by Joaquin Phoenix. He is a person who lives and has many scars along on his body, his wounds, and even his life. At least, this is a one-man show because there is very little use of cast in this film. Just like “Taxi Driver” which only focuses on Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle perspective.
Lynne Ramsay might change its simple point of view from the main premise. Yet, it never looks simple. Just like what we feel from the psychological character of Joe himself. He created a very deep psychological depression and trying to walk the path of truth. But, he always haunted by his gloomy past.
In contrast to Joaquin Phoenix, he was an emotionless person trying to remain under control. He is a giant-like body, runs slowly, traumatic, so nervous about people, and many more. The past haunts him. He is part of abusive victims as a child. The transition between the image of his imagination in the intermediate time of the past and the future. If he fails, we seem to be in his head.
The first opening scene has been opened with an ambiguous atmosphere but we know that this is about Joe trying to track down missing girls for a living. He takes several objects such as roll tape and, of course, a bloody hammer. Often mimic various kinds of references, especially “Psycho.” In fact, Jonny Greenwood’s score in this film was quite an inspiration from the film.
What makes him attractive isn’t something like such people in general. He is a veteran. The world throws it away, ignores it, and tries to live in a harsh environment. Brutality is the things he often sees. The human side of the character makes us better trace his so messy life from the internal and external environmental factors. However, he has an old-mother while having a mission to save a lost girl, we are more sympathetic to his character. He isn’t a child abuser but that part of the film makes everything so inviting a lot of curiosity and twist.
In addition to introducing the main plot and a little twist in each scene, the movie uses many other elements besides this film in the form of thrillers and mysteries. This film inserts various kinds of symbolism, ambiguity, and thousands of philosophical questions about the existence of Joe’s character. ‘You were never really here’ is one of the exact statements where it’s also the name of the film itself. Did he really never be there? Has he been dreaming all this time? Or was he the one who he feared the most? Public? Politician? Darkness? The plot shows a story that is full of conspiracies, provocative, some gore acting, revenge, deep and external wounds, etc. It’s kind of similar to “Taken” in addition to almost having the same character resemblance, “You Were Never Really Here” really describes a different sight.
This is one of those films where people uninterested about it. The plot is unpredictable and the slow pace makes people better out. I also sometimes try to get into Phoenix’s head. On the other hand, I like how this film always makes me curious about what will happens next. The movie failed miserably in that case where I also felt the way. On the other hand, Joaquin Phoenix as Joe sometimes reminds me of myself how I often imagine if I kill myself, is there someone who cries or doesn’t care at all?
There are a bunch of scenes whose existence I don’t really think is the same as I imagined the character. Jonny Greenwood’s score in this film is also a part of why I can feel at home with this film. The score always makes the atmosphere itself as a crowded city yet as a haunted city, the sound of trains coming from far away, very noisy car horns, the atmosphere of people who look empty inside. The score, again, really reminds me of “Taxi Driver.”
In this film, Joaquin Phoenix is really crazy. If I consider his acting really crazy in “The Master” then this movie is even crazier. Although not as ‘crazy’ as Paul Thomas Anderson’s, Phoenix in this film really brings out a deep psychological atmosphere. The character of Joe is a balance between fragility, anger, and revenge really gets an appreciation that should be more. Sometimes, the character is a little funny, especially to his own mother, but there are those that make it different from all anti-hero characters I’ve ever seen.
Even though he didn’t hesitate to kill someone, he still had humanity even though many of his friends had been killed. He takes out his own trauma like for example one scene when he goes looking the girl for the second time, it’s just really released as deep as the bottom of his heart. He asked for help but nobody responded. Just like we as an audience, always feel a dilemma because of such a twist.
Ramsay is at least one of the directors who also shows the essence of the film, how a film can be recognized as art, especially how to create tension and intense nuance. It’s one of those movies, one movie that has a good directing style even said to have its own artistic value. He sometimes uses a bomb that beats slowly but creates some confusion feeling after the twist doesn’t fit with what we are looking for.
The cinematography takes Joe’s own view, the view from him looks around, a space between the train passing and the main character with separate frames and the scene when the camera viewpoint is taken from a CCTV which one of my favorites. She seemed to always maintain her own tension because it didn’t show too directly. Little by little, the clue like the shadow of what the characters do is always taken slowly, not whole. In essence, you turn away then you lose. If you just turn a little, then you won’t be able to describe the whole film.
“You Were Never Really Here” stressing sadness rather than action. There isn’t much action or something like which you want to look for. It’s a movie that takes a perspective from psychology on past traumas that the main character has experienced and is still haunted until now. Joaquin Phoenix is one of the actors who really mastered everything in this film, besides being one of the insane characters, he experienced it in full of burden, Lynne Ramsay is a lot of directors who managed to take a few but not the overall image.
It’s exciting entertainment for people who are looking for ‘entertainment’ in other words, not your type of movies. Having a pace that’s so slow and failing to attract many viewers, at least Jonny Greenwood harmonizes a haunting soundtrack as if watching a horror movie in reality. End with thousands of questions about the title of the film itself, “You Were Never Really Here” is not a film for everyone. ‘Gloomy’ and ‘dark’ don’t seem to be the right words. It’s just left you with a vague trace.
4.5 out of 5 stars.