You Were Never Really Here (2017)
April 22, 2018 7:43 PM - Subscribe

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.
posted by komara (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I saw this at a sneak preview screening a couple months ago, and I very much a lot did not like it. I didn't know what the movie was going to be until I got there, and was not prepared for how brutal and discordant it was. It's not a good enough film to justify the brutality and discordance.

I like some pretty fucked-up movies in general, and I have a twisted soft spot for stories where little girls get to take violent revenge on the people who have hurt them. This is a pretty fucked-up movie with that as a minor plot element, but it's so poorly-structured and heavy-handed that what should be a complex, provocative study in trauma with some cathartic vengeance seems more salacious and exploitative than I think it was intended to be.

The only thing that kept me from fleeing the theater during the screening: aging Joaquin Phoenix looks a lot like Richard Moll, so it entertained me to think of the character as Bull from Night Court.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:32 PM on April 23, 2018

Grumpybearbride liked a lot of the elements - surrealism, pacing, music, cinematography, sound design - but found the plot to be riddled with holes upon analysis. I liked the way most of the violence was observed from a distance or not at all, which tied into the way Joaquin Phoenix's character was in a constant state of disembodiment.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:12 AM on April 26, 2018

I'm late to this movie (I put off watching it because of the level of brutal violence) but I mostly liked this. I really appreciated how it showed how much Joe was overwhelmed with the sound that surrounded him, which is an experience I'm not sure I've ever seen reflected that way in a movie. I liked how they gave some grounding to Joe without overexplaining his backstory. The premise was a bit too much for me but I am usually OK with that if the other elements are there.
posted by matcha action at 3:19 PM on May 8, 2018

One curious thing about the film is that although I summed it up to my wife as "brutal", it then struck me that most of the actual violence happens off screen. The unpleasantness is in our heads much of the time. The violence is the opposite of cathartic - as with the killing of the senator at the end, the violence we most want to see is already over when we get there, and the violence we don't want to see just leaves us sad.

Joe's mother is played by the actress who played the sexy neighbour in Eraserhead, by the way.

I watched it sideways on the iPad lying down with flu. I'm sure if I'd seen it in the cinema the formal elements - the photography, mise en scène, editing, sound, music, central performances - would have blown me away. They impressed me anyway.
posted by Grangousier at 3:28 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

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