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You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay journeys with Joaquin Phoenix into the mind of an ex-soldier gun-for-hire whose own demons are as brutal as the actions of his adversaries.


Dir-Scr Lynne Ramsay
Prod Rosa Attab, Pascal Caucheteux, James Wilson, Lynne Ramsay
With Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts

Lynne Ramsay’s stark inversion of the noir thriller is a devastatingly brutal portrayal of one man’s battle with repression and abuse, anchored by a rage-fuelled, Cannes-winning performance from Joaquin Phoenix. Joe (Phoenix) is a Gulf War veteran and former FBI agent turned killer-for-hire, specialising in saving victims from child sex rings and living at home with his ailing mother. When Nina, a US Senator’s daughter is kidnapped, he is contracted to dispense with the perpetrators and save the girl (Ekaterina Samsonov is hauntingly good). Having located Nina in a seedy New York brothel, Joe’s escape plan suddenly derails, unleashing a maelstrom of violence that ultimately takes him deeper into the hallucinatory darkness and closer to the truth. Working from Jonathan Ames’ 2013 novel, Ramsay (who jointly won the best screenplay award in Cannes) is more concerned with the psyche of her unhinged protagonist than she is with the action, and she eschews the spoken word in favour of Phoenix’s eloquent, line-ravaged face. Reuniting several of her key collaborators on We Need to Talk About Kevin (Best Film, LFF2011), her taut, syncopated cinema is intensified by Jonny Greenwood’s pulsating score, Thomas Townend’s expressive camerawork and razor-sharp editing from Joe Bini who rejects exploitation, cutting away from the action rather than to it.

Clare Stewart

Festival guests

These members of the filmmaking team are expected to attend the festival:

  • Lynne Ramsay, Director; Joaquin Phoenix, Cast

See the full list of visiting festival guests. Please note that we can't guarantee guest attendance at any particular screening.

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