Prior to Luis Fonsi’s hit Despacito, Joaquin Phoenix has been the sole representative of Puerto Rican art for the past couple of decades, and his exceptional merit had him prevail over most of his Latin contenders to be amongst Hollywood’s elite and Class A actors. Despite the scarcity of his cinematic appearances, this year marked the blissful return of the 43-year-old actor with his award-winning depiction in You Were Never Really Here.
You Were Never Really Here is centered on a troubled veteran whose specialty is tracking down missing girls no matter how violent or bloody these tasks could get. However, things go awry when he gets involved in a particular mission that revives his traumatic past and puts his life at stake.
Usually, the most captivating films are those scripted and directed by the same person, especially when they’re centered on effusive plots and sentimental stories. The real magic, however, happens when such one-man productions meld with the indie orientation of filmmaking, yielding the most enticing theatrical experiences. Thankfully, the past couple of years have were quite delightful to the fans of this genre as we got to feast our eyes on 2016’s Hell Or High Water, 2017’s Good Time, and this year’s You Were Never Really Here.
Abundant dialogues are often what define the structure of tragic flicks as they highlight the character’s struggles and offer much room for passionate sentences to dominate the screenplay. On the contrary, the writer/director of You Were Never Really Here, Lynne Ramsay, was in favor of utilizing the visual pillar over scripted dialogues to infuse her picture with compelling emotions and empathetic vibes. This had her introduce the main characters in a quite voiceless manner and solely base most of the film’s progression on her frames that walked us through the protagonist’s past, and how it impacted his current fragile self. Additionally, the film has encompassed plenty of symbolic references and hidden meanings that have emphasized its idea, which manifests the brilliance of Ramsay, whose diligence had her turn an atrocious phenomenon from our reality into a building block for a nail-biting top-notch thriller.
On a similar note, You Were Never Really Here has made use of the smallest details of its premise to convey its core to the audience. This was made clear in the manipulative utilization of all the joyful songs that were featured throughout the runtime, whose contradiction with film’s gloomy theme explicitly highlighted the impact of traumatic occurrences on individuals, and how such events could shatter youngsters’ innocence. Likewise, the occasional depiction of the abstract link between the male protagonist and the young female lead was as good as dramatic relationships get, resonating in the underwater sequence that gave us the feels and scoped their agonizing yet mutual background.
The subtle nature of the film’s leading character could’ve been a double-edged sword as it demanded an outstanding impersonation from a masterful actor, which was a child’s play to the legendary Joaquin Phoenix who fit like a glove in Ramsay’s fictional universe. With a riveting portrayal, Phoenix’s role in You Were Never Really Here has put him back on track and will surely be addressed as one of his finest appearances amongst his depictions in Gladiator and Her. Also, the young actress Ekaterina Samsonov has pulled off a sensational performance that featured abundant talent through her delicate interactions with her co-star.
Although it was featured and acclaimed in 2017’s Cannes Film Festival, the release of You Were Never Really Here in April promises a fruitful year for film industry, and the best is yet to come with the commencement of the summery productions and mid-year flicks, so buckle up and stay tuned for the upcoming cinematic fest!