Though it debuted as a work-in-progress last year at Cannes, Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is one of my most anticipated movies of 2018. The unfinished version caused a ruckus at the festival, and I can’t wait to watch Joaquin Phoenix thrash sex traffickers with a hammer. Oh yeah, as the release creeps ever closer, there’s a vicious new trailer to watch.
Sourced from Jonathan Ames’ novella, which I read in a single go during jury duty a few months back, You Were Never Really Here follows Joe (Phoenix), a former FBI agent and Marine. His past is only hinted at, but it’s obvious he’s been through unimaginable trauma in various ways. Now a civilian, he lives a sparse, reclusive life rescuing women from sex slavery. Since his preferred tool of the trade is a hardware store hammer, it’s safe to say, he takes a by-any-means-necessary approach to his work.
The book—it’s kind of a glorified pamphlet really—doesn’t dig super deep into the story or Joe. Honestly, it feels a bit unfinished, like it’s the beginning of a larger story. What it does rely on is mood and tension and the grimy, skeevy underworld to create pressure and provide momentum.
It’s not quite a blank slate, that’s not an accurate description, but there’s plenty of room for Ramsay, who also adapted the screenplay, to work. Watching We Need to Talk About Kevin, this raw story and visceral, uncomfortable subject matter feels like a perfect fit for the director. And if you’re into tense thrillers with esoteric character work, there’s good reason to get excited for this.
Here’s a synopsis:
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.
In addition to Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here also stars Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Alex Manette, Dante Pereira-Olsen, and Alessandro Nivola. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood handles the score, which is good news because that’s one of the best parts of Phantom Thread, and the snippet we get here sounds well matched to the material.
You Were Never Really Here opens April 6. This is a U.K. trailer, so, fingers crossed that date also goes for other territories. It's also set to screen at Sundance soon, for those in attendance. And check out a new poster while you wait.