You Were Never Really Here
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
An addled mercenary plays avenging angel.
“Think of it as a Taxi Driver for the 21st century,” said Nick Schager in TheDailyBeast.com. In Lynne Ramsay’s new film, “a masterpiece of monstrous beauty,” Joaquin Phoenix plays a PTSD-wracked military veteran who earns a living by tracking down children kidnapped by sex traffickers and punishing their oppressors. When Joe is hired to rescue a U.S. senator’s 13-year-old daughter from a heavily guarded New York City brothel, he is a would-be redeemer who’s once again seeking salvation “in all the wrong ways.” Joe’s weapon of choice is a ball-peen hammer, and the film is “so violently nerve-jangling that it feels like a stretch to recommend it, exactly,” said Sara Stewart in the New York Post. But Phoenix makes himself “the living, breathing embodiment of post-traumatic stress disorder,” and as the character’s mind flashes back to images of war or childhood abuse, the sights and sounds of the city mirror his distress, and Phoenix often looks so tightly coiled that “he appears to be vibrating slightly.” Ramsay’s 89-minute thriller “may be something of a blunt instrument,” said Dana Stevens in Slate.com. “But it still managed to knock me out.”