You Were Never Really Here
So the movie begins with a rather ironic profile of Joaquin Pheonix’s character Joe, the protagonists of such crime-drama movies are usually wounded and slightly deranged kind of people who are able to curb such emotions under a controlled façade. But this lead is someone else, he has an intimately sensitive personal life where he takes care of his ailing mother, looks after her like a child, while in the outside world he deals with violence, pain, crim, and danger.
Looking like a hobo Joe delivers an effortless image of someone who lives on the edge while holding on to the real things in life. He has suicidal inclinations but is too sane to do it. It makes a perfect sketch as Joe deals with the guilt of living life stranded at the threshold of self-loathing and inability to transform dark energy into something lighter, by investing his instincts to track and rescue missing under-age girls.
Now he is on the trail for a girl who has a habit of running away from home, though being an only daughter to a Senator. He hires Joe to use his ambiguity for vengeance against those that led his daughter astray. The violence comes easy and natural to this man as he has an eye for the brutality underlying the grand design of the world.
It’s only later in the movie that we realize it makes an ideal profile for someone who is to do what this man does, and how he does it. Ambiguity is the code to get a clearance inside the world of crime and human trafficking and even more so to get out of it alive. And so he does get the girl but that’s only where the story begins. For soon afterward the girl’s father commits suicide mysteriously, she is taken from Joe’s custody, and Joe and his family are on the hit list of a mafia. Those tracking him are powerful and corrupt.
With his misplaced attachment to the girl child, his instincts of survival, he sets on a path of vengeance. This work is a sinister mix of imagery, sound and plotting, but if you have a taste for Jaquine Pheonix’s performances which have a tilt of madness to them underlined with an obvious brilliance, then you should definitely watch this movie. I will give a rating of 7 out of 10, as it could have been more detailed and the plot a bit more visible rather than being hidden between the lines. With the rise of original series which are taking a lot of viewership away from the cinema, this is a refreshing performance from one of the most brilliant actors of his time, wrapped in a timespan of less than two hours.