‘You Were Never Really Here’ Spoiler-Free Movie Review – ScreenHub Entertainment

Based on Jonathan Ames’ novel, Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin, Ratcatcher) delivers a thoughtful and silently emotional movie. Not for the faint-hearted, You Were Never Really Here obviously draws from films such as Drive (2011) and Taxi Driver (1976) but manages to be original and interesting with hard-hitting violence that is not overly visual. The film premiered worldwide yesterday having completed the festival circuit, was written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, and stars Joaquin Phoenix (Her, Gladiator) and Ekaterina Samsonov (Anesthesia, The Ticket).

Performances and Casting

Joaquin Phoenix 2
Joaquin Phoenix as Joe [Credit: Amazon Studios, Film4, BFI]
Acting performances were great all-around without a single weak link. Joaquin Phoenix, however, as Joe, delivered an incredible performance. Phoenix manages to convey incredible emotion and complex thoughts without speaking (he can’t have said 100 words for the entire movie, only talking 3 or 4 times throughout). His performance rightfully earned him the Cannes Film Festival win for best actor and gives hope for his rumoured casting as the Joker in a Joker origin movie.

The casting for this film is great. There were not many characters with large roles but each actor, no matter how small the role, was perfectly cast and delivered a great performance.

Screenplay and Direction

Joaquin Phoenix 3
Joaquin Phoenix as Joe [Credit: Amazon Studios, Film4, BFI]

The film, written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, earned Cannes Film Festival wins for both Best Directing and Best Screenplay. With noticeably clever directing and an interesting and original story (though based on the novel of the same name) following Phoenix’s Joe walking a very fine line on the edge of insanity, You Were Never Really Here only totals at 90 minutes but achieves an increasingly edgy yet thoughtful tone throughout.

Technicals and Music

You Were Never Really Here.jpg
Joaquin Phoenix as Joe and Ekaterina Samsonov as Nina Votto [Credit: Amazon Studios, Film4, BFI]
The costumes in the film, designed by Malgosia Turzanska (who has previously worked on Stranger Things and Hell Or High Water) were well done with Phoenix’s costumes specifically being very well chosen for his character. The cinematography, headed by Thomas Townend (Attack The Block, We Need To Talk About Kevin) was very arty and interesting. Often filming around the action, you get an indirectly personal connection with the protagonist (Phoenix).

The editing of the film was fairly good, nothing spectacular but fairly unnoticeable (as editing really should be unless specifically intended otherwise). The flashbacks and suchlike were very well done and avoided a potentially confusing and uncomfortable editing situation.

Jonny Greenwood
Jonny Greenwood

Finally, Jonny Greenwood’s (above) soundtrack is wonderfully weird, edgy, and discordant, fitting the movie well. Obviously drawing inspiration from Drive (2011), Greenwood’s soundtrack is uncomfortable but fits the theme and tone of the movie perfectly.

In Summary…


I would not say this film is for everyone but achieving a thoughtful and eerily silent tone, You Were Never Really Here is layered and deeply complex, showcasing Joaquin Phoenix’s best performance to date and bringing an interesting and unique story to the big screen.


You Were Never Really Here Art
You Were Never Really Here Art


I hope you liked this review and for more like it please check out my review site at The Sci-Fi Critic or my review of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, which will premiere in early April. Also, be sure to check out more of our content and catch the latest news in cinema and pop culture at ScreenHub and my editorial on Netflix’s and HBO’s supporting of intellectual science fiction.

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