You Were Never Really Here

Viewed – 24 July 2018  Online rental

I like Joaquin Phoenix and it has to be said, you never really know what you’re in for with his movies.  He’s weird but fascinating and usually at least his performance is something to come away appreciating regardless of the movie.  This thriller has him as ‘Joe’ a grizzled, world-weary hit man, who takes jobs from various shady contacts, killing whomever he’s told to for a cash sum whilst otherwise going about his life, caring for his ailing mother and haunted by a troubling past.

You Were Never Really Here

There are strong echoes of the seminal Taxi Driver here, with similar themes of feeling disaffected by the world surround oneself and wanting to find some sort of meaning within the murk, the grime and the sleaze.  Once Joe however stumbles upon a case of a runaway girl who may have fallen victim to a child sex trafficking ring, a new found purpose emerges which quickly comes with unexpected repercussions.  It lacks the dry wit of Martin Scorsese’s classic, and plays out in a rather unique fashion, hardly showing any of the violence that is clearly taking place, preferring jump cuts and fancy editing to give a sense of dread and hopelessness, which works well.  However with a vague approach to the details, especially surrounding Joe’s past, this proves frustrating and with performances that are mostly blank stares and silence (and sometimes words uttered so lazily it’s hard to actually make them out) … for all this is trying to achieve, it ends up annoying in equal measure.

Director Lynne Ramsay has certainly delivered a different kind of thriller; sort of like Taken but with absolute realism in place of Hollywood action … a movie that lingered in my memory, disturbed me but was ultimately unfulfilling – reflective I’d say of the central character’s life.  Perhaps that was the point.

Verdict:  3 /5

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Viewed – 17 May 2012  DVD

Following a life shattering ‘incident’ former career woman Tilda Swinton attempts to rebuild her life, but soon finds the past and the present are not things she can run away from.  Somewhere at the centre of her problems is Kevin, her troubled and disturbed teenage son.

Co-starring John C Reilly and based on the acclaimed book by Lionel Shriver, this intelligent drama kept me hooked with its clever direction and splintered narrative.  Directed by Brit Lynne Ramsey this is a thought-provoking and well acted movie with a particularly strong turn from Swinton even if the likable Reilly is a tad under-used.  I found the way the story was told, with the looming shadow of something bad having happened, but the viewer not being let in on what … was very unique.  Although a simple story at heart, the director’s often unnerving use of reoccurring sounds and colours (especially ‘red’) made this much more than the some of its parts.  I would have appreciated a bit more incite into the character of Kevin, what made him tick etc, and the ending although I guess realistic, left me asking too many questions.

Yet as an example of social commentary this certainly highlights issues all too real in our world, be it troubled children, un-supported parents or the dangers of allowing problems to get swept under the carpet.  Swinton’s character was heart-breaking and the young actor playing Kevin certainly has a career of nutcase roles to look forward to, with a fine line in evil stares.


Verdict:  4 /5