Director: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov
Release Date: July 17, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 4/10
Disc Rating: 6.5/10
A traumatized 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’ accompanies Joe (Phoenix), a broken man on the edge who makes a living from rescuing lost children with a reputation of being brutal but effective. But when a rescue mission to reclaim a young girl goes unexpectedly off the rails, Joe finds his familiar life in complete disarray once those involved begin to come looking for him. Now he must abandon the world he knows and dive deeper into the abyss in an attempt to find the missing girl and save her once again before it’s too late.
Directed by Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin) from a screenplay she additionally wrote which was based upon the book by Jonathan Ames respectively, Ramsay does a relatively decent job at the helm of ‘You Were Never Really Here’ but the peculiar choices and her apparent determination to make the film unnecessarily confusing and artsy sadly can’t overcome its positive elements. The film features a somewhat limited cast including Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Judith Roberts (Dead Silence), Ekaterina Samsonov (Wonderstruck), John Doman (TV’s Gotham) and a few more that all deliver more than capable performances in each of their respective roles for the most part, but nothing quite exceptional enough to save this film from its issues.
‘You Were Never Really Here’ is an awkwardly mysterious, often painfully dull and just downright disappointing film for the most part. It has its glimmers of beauty, plenty of gorgeous shots and some decent enough performances yet suffers drastically from an excessive attempt at being artsy, the odd stylish nature and mystery always feeling awkwardly forced as opposed to natural. Detracting from what could easily be a far more logical and enjoyable storyline and film if not for the baffling decisions to unnecessarily confuse the audience, such as going out of its way to avoid any violence from being witnessed by the viewer, to the odd cuts and almost dreamlike sequences that may give a modicum of insight into Joe’s mindset but also pull the viewer further from comprehension of the bigger picture. I’m certainly the type that regularly loves odd and often incomprehensible pieces of filmmaking such as the work of David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn and more, but unlike other artsy, visually assaulting films, ‘You Were Never Really Here’ is a story that suffers far more from the approach than it benefits; resulting in a tale filled with no relatable characters and a pace that’s brutally dull. While there are clearly plenty of people (and critics) that seemed to thoroughly enjoy this one, I personally wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to watch ‘You Were Never Really Here’ if you’re not already thoroughly intent on doing so.
Overall, ‘You Were Never Really Here’ delivers some gorgeous shots in addition to a number of pretty solid performances and a looming mystery, but can never quite overcome the excessive baffling moves and odd progressions that tend to turn what seems to be a relatively simple story into a confusing mess filled with one dimensional characters that never evolve beyond their almost robotic patterns. Seeming to be far more concerned with the scenery and offbeat style than actually delving into what could be an interesting tale which results in a consistently dull and rather uneventful film that never manages to truly find itself. I wouldn’t overly recommend bothering with ‘You Were Never Really Here’ unless you’re a diehard fan of filmmaker Lynne Ramsay and/or of star Joaquin Phoenix. Those curious about the movie and intent on checking it out who also happen to have a Prime subscription may want to at least consider waiting for its inevitable debut on Amazon Prime down the line (nearly always the case for Amazon Studios productions) before coughing up any unnecessary funds on the film just to play it safe.
The Blu-ray release of ‘You Were Never Really Here’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty magnificent as a whole and delivers a clean and sharp presentation from start to finish with no noteworthy faults to be uncovered along the way. It holds up impressively even during the many notably dark sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a top notch high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that looks consistently great throughout and shouldn’t disappoint those who enjoyed the film.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack sounds great and makes a solid compliment. It frequently takes advantage of all five available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the unique score (which often delivers some wall shaking bass from the subwoofer as well), along with some other natural elements and various tidbits of activity when appropriate making their way throughout the various speakers, and never allowing the dialogue or any additional audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and sounds great at every turn.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Blu-ray release of ‘You Were Never Really Here’ doesn’t include any bonus content whatsoever.