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You Were Never Really Here (2017)

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A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

Director:

Lynne Ramsay

Writers:

Lynne Ramsay (screenplay by), Jonathan Ames (based on the book by)
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554 ( 208)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 22 wins & 59 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joaquin Phoenix ... Joe
Dante Pereira-Olson ... Young Joe
Larry Canady Larry Canady ... Cincinatti Cab Driver
Vinicius Damasceno ... Moises
Neo Randall Neo Randall ... Moises's Friend
Judith Roberts ... Joe's Mother
Frank Pando ... Angel
John Doman ... John McCleary
Edward Latham Edward Latham ... Drug Dealer
Alex Manette ... Senator Albert Votto
Claire Hsu ... Staring Girl
Denis Ozer Denis Ozer ... Afghan Boy
Tia Sofia Begh Tia Sofia Begh ... Afghan Girl
Lucy Lan Luo Lucy Lan Luo ... Dead Girl
Annie Mac-Yang Annie Mac-Yang ... Dead Girl
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Storyline

Balancing between feverish dreamlike hallucinations of a tormented past and a grim disoriented reality, the grizzled Joe--a traumatised Gulf War veteran and now an unflinching hired gun who lives with his frail elderly mother--has just finished yet another successful job. With an infernal reputation of being a brutal man of results, the specialised in recovering missing teens enforcer will embark on a blood-drenched rescue mission, when Nina, the innocent 13-year-old daughter of an ambitious New York senator, never returns home. But amidst half-baked leads and a desperate desire to shake off his shoulders the heavy burden of a personal hell, Joe's frenzied plummet into the depths of Tartarus is inevitable, and every step Joe takes to flee the pain, brings him closer to the horrors of insanity. In the end, what is real, and what is a dream? Can there be a new chapter in Joe's life when he keeps running around in circles? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Bring the hammer.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

R for strong violence, disturbing and grisly images, language, and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site | Official site [Japan] | See more »

Country:

UK | France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 April 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

You Were Never Really Here See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$132,829, 8 April 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,523,610, 10 June 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color | Black and White (surveillance footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Very little violence is shown on screen, but often the aftermath of violence that took place just off screen. Lynne Ramsay stated that before this movie she had never done anything with a gun, so she had to figure out how to approach violence. Budget constraints didn't allow her to shoot complex action scenes, so this gave birth to the idea to show "post rage aftermath scenes" instead of the violence itself. Lynne Ramsay confessed she thought it was very risky to use this approach, because if it didn't work she wasn't able to go back and reshoot the scenes. See more »

Goofs

In the mansion, Joe sits on the bed, slides to the floor, and rips his shirt off. Right after that he is sitting on the bed again. See more »

Quotes

Nina: Joe, wake up. It's a beautiful day.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Younger: A Christmas Miracle (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

The Naked Kiss
Composed by Paul Dunlap
Published by Chester Music Ltd trading as Campbell Connelly & Co
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brutal and Reality-Blurring
11 May 2018 | by Jared_AndrewsSee all my reviews

Joaquin Phoenix stars in, You Were Never Really Here, a movie that beckons memories of Taxi Driver. It's an apt comparison since the two movies are deep character examinations, and Phoenix's character in this film, Joe, certainly shares similarities with Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro's famous taxi driver.

The two men both have traumatic pasts that inflicted irreparable damage on their mental health, and both men currently live unsatisfying lives. The main difference is that Travis Bickle attempted to make an honest living driving a taxi for a time before he, well, you can watch the movie and find out what he did. But, Joe's way of making a living is unlawful from the beginning of the film. However, he did initially attempt a lawful career years before the film's opening scene. I'll get there.

Joe is a hired gun whose job is to hunt down missing girls, bring them back, and punish those that captured them. It's work not for the feint of heart. When asked if his methods are rough, Joe replies, "I can be." He's being modest.

Joe brutally disarms, injures, and kills anyone standing in the way of his missions. His preferred weapon: a ball peen hammer.

Despite all the killing, he's not a bad guy. He cares for his elderly and often confused mother. The work he does, while often gruesome and heavy on killing, is for what most would agree is a good cause. Few could retrieve the girls the way Joe does and even fewer would be willing to do so.

Joe takes no joy in any of his work. He takes no joy in any of his life. He continues forward out of some sense of duty. He fantasizes often about suicide and attempts on occasion, only stopping when he remembers his mother or the girls in need of help.

He often experiences vivid flashbacks and fantasies that blur the lines between what's real and not. The audience doesn't always know, and Joe doesn't always seem so sure either.

He's constantly haunted by memories of his past as a child, a soldier, and an FBI agent. Each phase of his life left him scarred physically and emotionally. Phoenix is one of the most enigmatic, fascinating, and excellent actors of the past 20 years. It's hard to imagine other actors pulling off a performance like this one. He deserves commendation for his work, as does director Lynne Ramsay.

Fair warning: the movie is occasionally brutally violent and is often very confusing. It's not for everyone.


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