“An unforgettable and tragic anti-hero”
The raw, oppressive You Were Never Really Here immerses us in the world of the callous, brutal hitman Joe (in a chillingly intense role for Joaquin Phoenix). Remarkably, this film is both grim and poetic, both violent and tender.
Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a severely traumatised war veteran who moves through life like a shadow. Working for a private detective friend, he tracks down wealthy New Yorkers’ missing sons and daughters who have ended up in the sex industry against their will, and brings them back home. For each job he visits his local do-it-yourself shop to buy a new weapon: a hammer. When he is given the job of tracking down the missing underage daughter of a well-known politician, he rescues her from a bordello in Manhattan and finds himself entangled in a world of corruption and revenge.
Now you could be thinking that You Were Never Really Here is a violent genre movie, but the film is, above all, a mental trip through Joe’s chaotic mind. In the end, this emotional intimacy has the effect of making the film horribly touching. Justifiably, at the Cannes Film Festival, Joaquin Phoenix was chosen as Best Actor, and director Lynne Ramsay was awarded Best Screenplay.