You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

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mfunk9786
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You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#1 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:54 pm

I was wondering what happened to this film after all the effusive praise at Cannes. Seemed Amazon didn't want to campaign for it during Oscar season, I guess, because it's coming on April 6th, 2018, according to an announcement made yesterday via Twitter...

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Amusingly/depressingly, Lynne Ramsay's name is misspelled in the bio of the film's official Twitter account, along with the hashtag "#BringTheHammer." Woof. Glad it's being marketed with all the gusto of a direct-to-video Seagal film.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#2 Post by JamesF » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:16 am

Assuming it hasn't changed too much from the version I saw at Cannes, it's too weird/violent for the Academy anyway. I loved it.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:52 am

Has there been talk of re-cutting?

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mistakaninja
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#4 Post by mistakaninja » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:12 am

Think it was more that the cut seen at Cannes was completed at the last minute. The edit they submitted for consideration actually had frames of storyboard in it. Ramsay said the sound edit was done in five days where it would normally be three weeks, and that she was looking to play around with the music some more, especially Greenwood's score. It showed at the LFF, but I don't know if there were any substantive differences.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#5 Post by JamesF » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:02 am

The Cannes version didn't have any end credits, which was quite a bizarre experience - after brief cards for Ramsey and Phoenix, the music continued playing out over black, and the lights didn't come up either, leaving everyone to shuffle out in darkness! From what I understand the London version was the finished film, and any changes were pretty negligible. It certainly seemed like a finished film (credits aside) at Cannes.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#6 Post by diamonds » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:23 pm


Werewolf by Night

Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#7 Post by Werewolf by Night » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:14 pm

Amazon's going to have to really screw up the distribution on this for it not to be their biggest hit yet.


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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#9 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:27 am

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#11 Post by MoonlitKnight » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:29 am

Is there any other kind?

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#12 Post by swo17 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:55 am

WOW. This isn't just like Taxi Driver--the entire thing is like the last 10 minutes of Taxi Driver. Absolutely brutal.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#13 Post by diamonds » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:01 pm

I wanted to like this film more than I did. The plot is so straightforward, everything about it is so stripped down, that I found it became rather ineffectual. I'd hardly even call it a deconstruction; though the elision of almost all violence is something of a commentary on the genre (and is done well), I didn't find much else about it to be particularly subversive. The intrusive flashbacks that reveal Joe's prior trauma only occasionally have any visceral intensity. Aside from
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the faces of the girls in the storage container,
they were rather weightless, purely functional rather than revelatory. The Limey did a much better job toying with the revenge narrative, with an even bolder version of the editing on display here, even if it was for a somewhat different purpose (memory as opposed to trauma).

Gina Telaroli offered a take I found interesting in Film Comment:
Extraordinarily, Ramsay’s film is not about people; instead it uses them and their bodies to explore American systems of power, and the abuse that develops within. The political, monetary, and sexual forces that cause people to act are on display here, as are the physical consequences of said actions, with all emotion and psychology removed.
It's a different way of looking at the film, and I'd be curious to see if anyone can expand upon that convincingly given how bare-bones the plot is and how focused it is on Joe. To me that quote better describes a film like Eyes Wide Shut, which accomplishes everything she describes more effectively than this film does, and is infinitely more disturbing. You Were Never Really Here really does seem to want to be about Joe and to explore his trauma, I'm just not fully convinced it did in a novel, compelling way. I'm sympathetic to a lot of what the film is doing though, so I'd be open to revisiting it somewhere down the line.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#14 Post by domino harvey » Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:11 pm

I liked this, but I think Spartan did a similar thing and much, much, much better (and had far more ideas at its disposal). The negative comparison to the Limey is apt (both being cloudy revenge indies directed by aesthetic-conscious auteurs), but that film too brought way more to the table stylistically than this one does. Haven't we seen this kind of aesthetic distancing enough times for us to call it out for being every bit as outre as more straightforward choices, even if it is effectively employed? Phoenix is great, as always, but to me the brightest spot here was Greenwood's score, which often makes unexpected tonal choices and serves as additional propulsion through the simple but narratively murky throughline.

PS That Film Comment defense is absurd


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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#16 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:16 pm

diamonds wrote:Gina Telaroli offered a take I found interesting in Film Comment:
Extraordinarily, Ramsay’s film is not about people; instead it uses them and their bodies to explore American systems of power, and the abuse that develops within. The political, monetary, and sexual forces that cause people to act are on display here, as are the physical consequences of said actions, with all emotion and psychology removed.
Well, Domino certainly made this a not entirely easy opinion to share in his above postscript, but this pull-quote is about as well-reasoned a way of looking at the film as any. Our times are starting to feel eerily like the way popular culture of that era represented the 70s, and this is essentially Pizzagate: The Movie in a number of ways, whether it is casting judgment on its protagonist or not, it’s the establishment as a whole that is the villain here. If it’s seen as the demented conspiratorial fantasy of a broken man, then it certainly is hearkening to our modern, InfoWars-fueled paranoiascape, but even taken at face value there’s chilling stuff here.

The way Joe’s memories are folded into the audio mix and occasionally with quick cuts is incredibly executed and a substitute for a more coherent plot in a sense - Telaroli’s paragraph above says it well (I could do without that ridiculous “bodies” stuff, though) - there are a number of reasons why Joe has ended up the way he is, all to do with someone abusing their power over a situation, another person, etc throughout his emotional development in ways that he absorbed and that his mind cannot correctly dispose of.

Like in Eyes Wide Shut, how deep this all truly goes is beside the point: in You Were Never Really Here, the idea that it could occur at all - in the flesh or in the mind of a troubled human being, either or - is where the true horror lies. Great movie, and a case for Ramsay never needing to wade through interminable bullshit again to make as many more as she’d like.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#17 Post by domino harvey » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:05 pm

For starters, I disagree that emotion has been removed. Joe and Nina may be shell-shocked, to put it mildly, but their responses to individual stimuli and circumstances are expressed and felt by the audience. This isn't a Kubrick film of stone-faced ciphers, and the psychological impetuses of these two is not hard to surmise (same for their motivations). I think catchalls like the Film Comment piece (and your comments, I guess) are trying to tether this to a larger cultural zeitgeist that I'm not convinced the film is even really engaging in.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:08 pm

There is definitely a chicken and egg for me, in wondering whether I’m projecting politics on the film or the film had them in mind maybe even before they ratcheted up in their relevance in the months since this was wrapped, but it all works together in a really compelling way regardless.
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Does anyone else interpret much of the film as imagined by Joe? I thought the last scene might have been Ramsay’s way of making us question this, but then again LQ didn’t interpret it that way at all. Everything in the governor’s mansion felt so... manufactured by a damaged mind going through the motions of fighting like... a “final pedophile boss” of sorts. The dollhouse, the perfectly laid out room for Nina... I didn’t read a lot of the 2nd half of the film as actually occurring the way we see it, especially from the point of Joe going back to his home to find his mother onward. I’d go as far as to say it’s possible Joe is the one who murdered his mother during one of an escalating number of bad spells.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#19 Post by swo17 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:37 pm

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Some of the scenes toward the end are obviously imagined, but I wouldn't extend this any further than where it is obvious. What purpose would this serve? There's just enough there to artfully show that he imagined the rescue would culminate in some cathartic showdown between all his demons, and that saving the girl in the end didn't actually give him any peace. (That imagined suicide by the way was a great fakeout, with Ramsay almost sabotaging her movie only to immediately redeem it with the indelible image of that smiling waitress with the blood-spattered face sliding him the check.)
Also, I second domino on the score. Sucked me in from the first scene.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#20 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:56 pm

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The reason I got that impression, and am getting it more when reflecting back on the film, is that the initial way the job was laid out to Joe was relatively straightforward. The girl lost her mother, has been sneaking out more and more, and is now missing. This seems to be more realistically like the kinds of jobs someone in this line of work, a la Night Moves, would be getting. From that point forward, the job turns into one that has increasing stakes, high ranking government officials, and an oddly silent victim, who never seems particularly present (...real?) when Joe is with her. Or, for example, when the waitress drops the check. I would not be the one to suggest that the only reading of the film is that so much of this is Joe inflating a typical missing child case in his mind as he is wrestling with his PTSD worse than he ever has, but it does seem to fit with some of the unusual occurrences (the showdown with police in the hotel, holding hands with the faceless goon who killed his mother and singing along to the same song, the way he chooses to bury his mother, the whole governor's mansion finale) that never quite seem rooted in reality, or to live comfortably alongside the original job assignment that Joe receives. I need to see this again though, there's a lot going on below the surface here, even if it isn't meant to be easily dismissed as fantasy as I am toying with here.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#21 Post by domino harvey » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:00 pm

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Another vote for everything in the film being real save the obviously false suicide scene. There's no reason to believe Phoenix couldn't be encountering and persevering through these scenarios based on what we've already seen-- though that he keeps showing up seemingly seconds after his loved ones get bloodily murdered suggests his timing could be better! Of course, I don't buy the "Taxi Driver's finale is a fantasy" argument either

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#22 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:07 pm

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With both this and Taxi Driver, I do think they're playing around in these spaces to deliberately stoke this kind of conversation, and for that reason, there is no correct answer, even if someone has a strong feeling one way or another. Which is one of several reasons why I am really smitten with this film - it's much smarter than it has any right to be about the way it chooses to depict these occurrences, leaving them open to a lot of healthy interpretation and reinterpretation on the part of the viewer.

You make a great point about the timing of his arrivals, because it seemed like we were supposed to believe that he was going through the governor's mansion having just murdered the guards but not remembering doing it, sort of an echo of his initial run through the house, culminating in his utter panic on the bed when he can't remember how he got to this point, with everyone in the house dead.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#23 Post by mistakaninja » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:12 am

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I read his reaction at the end in the bedroom as a recombinant outpouring of grief and panic. Grief for his mother and his friend who had been killed, and who he could finally allow himself to feel for now that his mission of consequence had come to an end. And panic not for how he got there but where on earth he would go afterwards. For all his strengths as a man of action, how much agency did Joe actually have? He had moved back in with his mother to his childhood home, where his traumas began so long ago with the abuse his father dished out. Further traumatised by what he witnessed in the wars in the Middle East, he set himself up as this avenger, rescuing trafficked girls. But just as big a part of his motivation seemed to be punishing the johns too, given his zeal with the hammer in the New York brothel. He had closed himself off in an endless cycle of violence. With all that gone, with no elderly mother to care for/be cared for by, and no friend to send him on righteous quests, where does a man like that go? He has no comprehension of new horizons.

This ties in to why I feel the film works better if most of what happened at the end occurred just as we saw it (beyond, as Swo17 said, the obvious hallucinations of his mother and himself in the house and the gunshot suicide in the diner). Anything else deprives Nina of her agency, as by the end of the picture it is her who is propelling things along (and in a way, it always was her). Her taking of a razor to the governor's throat rendered Joe impotent. He had built up this dramatic confrontation in his mind, another of his hammer melees culminating in his killing the man he holds responsible for his mother, his friend, Votto, and Nina. And then Williams's death is served up like a punchline to him, utterly deflating what rage he has remaining. From then on, he's as much a ward of Nina as she is of him. He might not sound convinced that it's a beautiful day, but he's willing to try to see things her way. That recalibration is an improvement over the climax of the book, where the girl never moves beyond being a victim to be rescued and a tool with which vengeance is stoked within Joe.

Reading interviews with both Ramsay and Phoenix, they both commented that almost every take they shot was different, deliberately. Which raises the possibility that an almost entirely different film could be edited from the same basic script and framing. It also highlighted some of the unplanned magic that can occur on set. In that Village Voice interview, Phoenix said the lines where Judith Roberts talks about having watched Psycho (when Joe first returns home from Cincinnati) were improvised and he ran with the idea, doing the eee eee eee dagger action. He later returned to that in a slightly less playful manner when his mother was busy making a mess of the bathroom. Phoenix also said two singing scenes came together on set - the bit where he sings in front of a mirror in the baths, and the extraordinary sequence where he lies on the kitchen floor with one of the men who murdered his mother and they sing along to Charlene (neither of which are in the book).

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#24 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:30 am

I like that reading of the film a lot, thanks for sharing!

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#25 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:49 am

mistakaninja wrote:
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Her taking of a razor to the governor's throat rendered Joe impotent. He had built up this dramatic confrontation in his mind, another of his hammer melees culminating in his killing the man he holds responsible for his mother, his friend, Votto, and Nina. And then Williams's death is served up like a punchline to him, utterly deflating what rage he has remaining.
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What is your reading of what occurred with the guards at the house? It appeared they'd been shot, rather skillfully at that - was that Nina too? That's the element of the occurrences at the governor's mansion that didn't necessarily add up to me as anything but Joe dissociating.
mistakaninja wrote:
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Reading interviews with both Ramsay and Phoenix, they both commented that almost every take they shot was different, deliberately. Which raises the possibility that an almost entirely different film could be edited from the same basic script and framing. It also highlighted some of the unplanned magic that can occur on set. In that Village Voice interview, Phoenix said the lines where Judith Roberts talks about having watched Psycho (when Joe first returns home from Cincinnati) were improvised and he ran with the idea, doing the eee eee eee dagger action. He later returned to that in a slightly less playful manner when his mother was busy making a mess of the bathroom. Phoenix also said two singing scenes came together on set - the bit where he sings in front of a mirror in the baths, and the extraordinary sequence where he lies on the kitchen floor with one of the men who murdered his mother and they sing along to Charlene (neither of which are in the book).
This goes without saying at this point, I'm sure - but Phoenix is at the top (maybe with Philip Seymour Hoffman gone and Daniel Day-Lewis in retirement, the absolute top) of his form. A lot of this kind of improvisation occurred on the set of The Master too, creating elements to the character that weren't necessarily there on the page and that were able to be called back in other areas of the film, generating subtext where there wasn't any. The Psycho thing felt a little on the nose until the nature of Joe's relationship with his mother became more fleshed out. One of the saddest moments of the film is
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when Joe asked if his mother was frightened when she died. Considering their past together, it is absolutely an understandable question for him to ask, and concern for him to have, and it is not the sort of question that most hard-boiled, manly grunt characters in this sort of film would ask. Maybe it was on the page in the novella, but it felt like Ramsay's presence that drew that kind of heartbreaking nuance out of the story.
I'm with Domino - your thoughts were a real pleasure to read, and probably more in line with what Ramsay was going for here than mine. Looking forward to this arriving in theaters in my area, I have to see it again and don't want to half-ass that experience in the way that I'm sure all of us outside of NY/LA did. Considering that opening per-screen box office for the film, hopefully its emergence (being deliberately vague here for the sake of our forum rules) doesn't negatively impact it too badly as it expands.

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