Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, who made a terrific debut with Ratcatcher and immediately followed it up with Morvern Callar, hasn’t been very prolific thereafter – We Need to Talk about Kevin followed 9 years later, and then, after another 6 years, she made You Were Never Really Here. A moody, atmospheric and visceral crime drama – and adaptation of Jonathan Ames’ neo-noir novel – laced with simmering anger and violence, it was an engaging genre exercise, albeit pumped with psychological elements and preference for tonal buildup that differentiated it from more mainstream takes on similar storylines. Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a troubled war veteran, haunted by his past – memories of his abusive father and the violence during his stint with the military, and plagued by suicidal tendencies. He is also a hired gun for rescuing kidnapped girls, and is known for his penchant for brutality; yet, in an interesting reversal of the laconic loner prototype, he resides with his elderly mother (Judith Roberts). And, in what was reminiscent of the unforgettable corridor fight sequence in Oldboy, his weapon of choice is hammer. His life, however, collapses when he accepts a high-profile job to rescue a Senator’s abducted daughter (Ekaterina Samsonov). He, in rescuing the deeply scarred girl, faces the wrath of an organized trafficking racket of underage girls involving a pedophile Governor with state machinery at his disposal. Though the film’s length was perhaps too brief to do full justice to Joe’s damaged soul and the ambience of this mood-piece, by having to restrict just to glimpses and allusions, it still made for compelling viewing – especially thanks to Phoenix’s enthralling and immersive turn, ably complemented by the assured Samsonov.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Genre: Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Crime Thriller