You Were Never Really Here (2017)

If I have to be completely honest, I had no intention whatsoever in watching You Were Never Really Here as I'm not a huge fan of Joaquin Phoenix. But I've heard such incredible things about it over the past months, I decided to check it out. 

The film follows Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a Gulf War veteran suffering from PTSD who takes care of his frail, elderly mother (Judith Roberts) and whose job is now to track down missing people, specifically teens. When the 13-year-old daughter (Ekaterina Samsonov) of a Senator (Alex Manette) doesn't return home, he is hired to bring her back and make the sex traffickers who took her pay.

The plot is the biggest issues I had with You Were Never Really Here: it's nearly non-existent as plot points and details are introduced only to be immediately discarded; there are times when I found myself really invested in the story and I couldn't take my eyes off it; there are times when it feels like huge chunks of plot were removed and nothing makes sense, and I completely lost my interest. It's a story that deals with themes of alienation, violence, guilt and redemption, like Taxi Driver's, but unlike Scorsese's movie, this doesn't really convey those themes. 

It's not like the I enjoyed Lynne Ramsay's direction much more than the plot as her style is pretty boring and choppy. The camera work is mediocre, the lighting is often distracting and Ramsay delivers jagged flashbacks and hallucinations at key moments only to build tension, which didn't work at all for me. She does a wonderful job at not glorifying violence, by showing very little graphic violence and never making it thrilling, but the even most of the scenes that are supposed to be thrilling are somewhat hollow. 

Amazon Studios
That being said, You Were Never Really Here isn't completely rotten. No matter how I feel about him, it's undeniable that Joaquin Phoenix gives an outstanding performance here. His Joe is a troubled man fighting the bad guys as well as his demons, and Phoenix does a wonderful job at delivering that, mostly through his facial expressions as the film has nearly no dialogue, and he really makes you root for the character. 


  1. I actually thought Phoenix just kept wandering around. He used to give great performances but lately he kinda simply exists on screen and that's it

    1. He did kinda wander around but it worked for me here.

  2. I liked this but I felt like it was too short. Or that they didn't get enough important information in the run time they had. I felt like it just needed more story.

  3. Interesting review! I've heard so much about this one, but haven't checked it out yet because similarly, I didn't have a big interest in it. I think I'll get around to this one eventually, but not in a rush to. lol