Joe’s black ball peen hammer may not be a shiny as Maxwell’s silver one or Thor’s Urdu welded marvel, but the death and destruction it wields is comparable. You see, Joe is a hit man and this disposable mighty mallet is his weapon of choice.
Joe is played by Joaquin Phoenix with a scraggly bearded intensity that is melancholic, wrathful and full on avenging spirit. Joe is a hallowed out survivor of child abuse and some unknown dessert war who finds uneasy redemption taking care of his frail mom and rescuing children from sex slavery. The key traumatic episodes that made him are recycled during moments of personal dramatic intensity in You Were Never Really Here.
Lynne Ramsey who made the hallucinogenic school violence themed fantasmagoria We Need to Talk About Kevin returns to directing after a five year hiatus. Like Kevin, Here is an impressionistic tonal assault of over saturated images, amped up acoustic exaggeration and minimalistic acting.
It is so deftly edited and intensely put together that it easily elevates itself above its Taxi Driver meets León the Professional plot references. Ekaterina Samsonov coolly and capably provides the needed Jodi Foster and Natalie Portman support.
You Were Never Really Here is an enthralling and hypnotic synthesis that is one of the best of this year.