Let’s take a break from the whole Ad game a bit, and check out “Your Were Never Really Here,” a bold, thrilling, and visionary drama about a hitman with a troubled past, and his mission in life.
When it comes to Indie films, these hitman movies are treated with such complex details and moral objections. It doesn’t always need a generic heroic look, a main villain, or a damsel in distress looking like a damsel in distress. It needs a character study, and that’s what the movie succeeds in.
Based on the book by Jonathan Ames, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Joe, a hitman, whose job is to murder the men who kidnap girls. He is also a former combat veteran and FBI agent, who suffers from PTSD and struggles to overcome his emotions. We see loud but beautiful flashbacks from both his line of duty and childhood, and at times, he places plastic bags and towels over his head.
His next assignment is to find a New York State Senator’s (Alex Manette) daughter Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), and hurt her abductors badly. As usual, he pulls it off, but two things happen: her father commits suicide, and two dirty cops take the girl. Now, while suffering from his own pain, he’s part of an even bigger game.
“You Were Never Really Here,” written for the screen and directed by Lynne Ramsay (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”), gives Joaquin Phoenix one of his most memorable performances, by allowing him to feel the tension in his character’s life, and to know what game he is playing in. And when we least expect it, we feel his pain and misery.
The filming of this movie is also immaculate. Jonny Greenwood’s music, Joe Bini’s editing, and Tom Townend’s cinematography all help make the movie look and feel great. I love looking at the way Joe leaves the scene of the crime, the way he drives, and the way he suffers from PTSD. It’s all done with a certain kind of art and vulnerability.
Sure the flashbacks can be pretty loud at times with the screams and shocks, but they are provided to show us the hero’s dark past. We need to know where he comes from and why he is depressed.
Again, this is no ad-induced hitman thriller; this is a personal study. and the last 20 minutes of the film are just galvanizing.