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You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here: Joaquin Phoenix is Joe, an emotionally and physically scarred man who makes his living finding missing girls. His latest assignment involves the teenage daughter of an elected official who has been seen in a prostitution house.  The film is a technical marvel. The director expertly moves from inside of Joe’s head, and his memories, to the present day and back; the flashback scenes are jarring and add to the depth of the damage done to Joe as a kid and as a war veteran. The script is 89 minutes, and there is not a single unnecessary scene. The camera work with its dark and extended shots gives it the feel of film noir. The sound and captures exactly what it must be like in Joe’s head – there were a couple of scenes where I wanted to cover my ears; there is one scene that is involving a song that those of us from a certain era remember, “Never Been to Me”, that is darkly funny and perfect for the film. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing; this is probably his best role to date. He doesn’t always say a lot, but what he conveys in his facial expressions fills in what he doesn’t say. The acting is a superior work of control and represents a total command of his character. There is no wonder why Lynne Ramsay won at Cannes for Best Screenplay and Phoenix for Best Actor; the combination of the two makes for stunning cinema. Huge thumbs up for a film that I cannot recommend to all; you have to be able to tolerate violence, the film can be somewhat abstract. It is a film for those who enjoy watching something for its technical brilliance. I also see so many similarities to David Lynch films in terms of the depth of psychological exploration. I expect some Oscar nominations to come from this.

 

About Gary Burkholder

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