The Films of Lynne Ramsay
We Need to Talk About Kevin
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You Were Never Really Here (May 2/18)
Based on a book by Jonathan Ames, You Were Never Really Here follows Joaquin Phoenix's grizzled Joe as he sets out to find a missing girl and is subsequently drawn into a progressively deadly conspiracy. It's a fairly conventional premise that's employ to consistently (and increasingly) avant-garde effect by director Lynne Ramsay, with the filmmaker's decidedly idiosyncratic approach undoubtedly paving the way for several thoroughly striking sequences - including the flat-out riveting opening stretch (which is enhanced by Tom Townend's eye-catching visuals and Jonny Greenwood's memorable score). There's little doubt, however, that Ramsay's pervasively abstract handling of her own screenplay prevents the viewer from wholeheartedly connecting to the protagonist's plight, with this vibe certainly heightened by Phoenix's arresting yet mostly inscrutable turn as the tortured central character (and it doesn't help, certainly, that the majority of Joe's dialogue is drowned out by Phoenix's less-than-enunciated delivery). It ultimately becomes fairly apparent that You Were Never Really Here virtually demands knowledge of the source material to wholeheartedly decipher what's going on, as Ramsay's aggressively vague sensibilities ensure that large swaths of the narrative are virtually impossible to comfortably comprehend - which confirms the picture's place as a moody yet not-entirely-successful thriller that would've benefited from just a hint of straightforwardness.