Even though I add trailers to most if not all of our posts, I am usually a fan of going in blind. Earlier in the year, my independent cinema had a viewing night for patrons where we got to watch 20 trailers and vote for films we wanted them to get this spring. The top of my list at the end of the evening was You Were Never Really Here. The trailer below does a fairly decent job of capturing the tone and it doesn’t really spoil anything, which is the reason I try to avoid trailers if I can.
You Were Never Really Here is an anti-hero revenge thriller. Our tortured soul Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a fixer for hire. The only jobs we are shown or told he does is rescuing abducted children used in sex trafficking. He is quite good at his job and takes a brutal hands-on approach. The reason for his methods are shown in flashbacks but don’t hold out hope for the whole story. We only get snippets of info, though I think it is enough and may actually make the film ideal for repeat viewings. Plus with the breezy 86 min run-time this movie flies.
Often you hear movies that run in the two to two and a half hour range as being overly long and should be cut down. This seems to be a good example of what the finished product would be. There is barely any filler and many unexplained scenes. While I felt that the length was the correct choice, I think it greatly hurts the film’s accessibility. This can be evidenced by people on all sides of me in the theater constantly asking “What is going on” or stating “I’m lost”. I think the editing will cut into its commercial appeal. However, that alone will interest some as well.
I’m somewhat surprised at the lack of violence actually depicted. Most of it is off camera or we are only shown the aftermath. Not that I need on-screen violence in my films but when you have a fixer performing brutal acts while diving in the world of sex traffickers… I think some violence is expected. Especially with the dark and serious tone the film is striving for. Plus even though Joe is a murderer and a tortured man, the fact that he is dealing death to people who hurt children… you’ll want to see them suffer.
While I might sound like I didn’t like the film, I actually found it rather riveting. The cinematography and score were both top notch. The music set up every scene perfectly and you knew stuff was going to go down. Then it stepped aside when it needed to during the more somber parts. Phoenix is great as Joe. I’m not a huge fan of him like some may be, but this is an amazing performance.
You Were Never Really Here Final Thoughts 3.5/5
There are certainly some aspects that will hold this film back from being a true classic. Not to sound snobby, which if you have seen my Asylum Blu-ray collection you know I am not, but this is ultimately a film for film lovers. It’s not one you will hear people talk about out of the blue. What you get is an engaging dark thriller that will lend itself to many repeat viewings.