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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘You Were Never Really Here’: A Ferocious Yet Strikingly Emotive Tale of Deliverance and Salvation

Movie poster for the film You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix

“You Were Never Really Here” (2017) is a fierce and weighty drama-thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, an emotionally traumatized military veteran who operates as a private mercenary in modern-day New York City.

Focusing his work on the recovery of girls abducted into sex trafficking rings, Joe is hired by state senator Albert Votto (Alex Manette) to locate his missing teenage daughter Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov). Working through middle-man John McCleary (John Doman), Joe infiltrates a brothel for wealthy patrons and rescues the bewildered youth—only to face an onslaught from corrupt police and government officials that reveals a far more complex and sinister conspiracy at play.

Written and directed by Lynne Ramsey (“Ratcatcher”, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”) and based on the book by Jonathan Ames, “You Were Never Really Here” is a high-touch and visually enthralling thriller made viscerally emotive through it’s stark depiction of post traumatic stress. Phoenix conveys the complexity of Joe’s anguish in a remarkably coherent yet tortuous manner, elevating the proceedings above customary thriller fare to a realm of profound and distinguished cinema.


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