If you’ve ever wanted to watch Joaquin Phoenix bludgeon sex traffickers on the head with hammers, You Were Never Really Here is the film for you. (And, no, it’s not a sequel to I’m Still Here.)
Based on the Jonathan Ames novella of the same name, You Were Never Really Here follows Joe (Phoenix), a PTSD-addled veteran of the Gulf War and a former FBI agent who now works as a hitman and is hired by a senator to rescue his daughter from a child sex ring. Ramsay and Phoenix were drawn to the character because of its focus on, as Phoenix put it, “the impotence of masculinity.” Writer and director Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin) spoke to Deadline about the character’s unconventional heroism.
Ramsay took to the novella’s protagonist of Joe for his anti-hero attributes, saying “He’s a flawed character, the scarred man, he wasn’t James Bond, he lived with his mother and he’s a bit schlepy.”
You Were Never Really Here received a seven-minute standing ovation at Cannes, where it won prizes for both Best Screenplay for Ramsay, and Best Actor for Phoenix. That ovation is made all the more impressive when you consider the movie itself is only 89 minutes, so the cheers lasted about one-twelfth of its runtime.
You Were Never Really Here will be released April 6.