You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here (released as A Beautiful Day in France and Germany) is a 2017 psychological thriller film written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. Based on the 2013 novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames, it stars Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, John Doman, and Judith Roberts. In the film, a traumatized mercenary named Joe (Phoenix) is hired by a politician to find and rescue his daughter who has been kidnapped by a human trafficking network, which Joe is instructed to destroy by any violent means.
|You Were Never Really Here|
|Directed by||Lynne Ramsay|
|Screenplay by||Lynne Ramsay|
|Based on||You Were Never Really Here|
by Jonathan Ames
|Music by||Jonny Greenwood|
|Edited by||Joe Bini|
|Distributed by||StudioCanal (United Kingdom)|
Amazon Studios (United States)
SND Films (France)
|Box office||$10.9 million|
An early cut premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in competition, where Ramsay won the award for Best Screenplay and Phoenix the award for Best Actor. The film was released by StudioCanal in the UK, on 9 March 2018, and by Amazon Studios in the U.S., where it began a limited release in Los Angeles and New York on 6 April 2018, and a wide release on 20 April. It received critical acclaim, with Ramsay's direction and Phoenix's performance garnering high praise.
Joe is a traumatized hired gun who specializes in rescuing trafficked girls, using brutal methods against their captors. He cares for his elderly mother in his childhood home in New York City. Joe has flashbacks of the abuse he and his mother faced from his violent father, and his brutal past in the military and FBI, and is troubled by suicidal thoughts.
As he comes home one night, Joe is seen by Moises, the son of Angel who acts as middleman between Joe and his handler John McCleary. Joe tells McCleary that Angel knows his address and may pose a security risk. McCleary assigns Joe a new job: a New York State Senator, Albert Votto, has offered a large sum of money to discreetly rescue his abducted daughter, Nina. He gives Joe the address of a brothel for wealthy patrons sent via an anonymous text.
Joe stakes out the brothel, kills several security guards and patrons, and rescues Nina. While Joe and Nina await Votto's arrival in a hotel room, the news reports that Votto has committed suicide. Police officers gain access to the room with the help of the desk clerk, before killing the clerk and taking Nina. One of the officers attempts to kill Joe, but is instead killed by Joe who then escapes.
Joe finds that government agents have killed McCleary, Angel and Moises, in search of Joe's address. Arriving back at his own home, Joe discovers that two agents have murdered his mother and have been waiting for him. He kills one agent and mortally wounds the other, who reveals that Governor Williams is directing the authorities to cover up the trafficking, and that Nina is Williams's favorite.
Joe gives his mother a water burial. He fills his own pockets with stones and allows himself to sink into water with the intent of killing himself, but as he sinks, he has a vision of Nina; he removes the stones from his pockets and swims back to the surface.
Joe follows Williams to his country home and fights his way in, only to discover Williams with his throat slit. He searches the house and discovers Nina seated at a dining room table, alongside a bloody straight razor. Although Joe has become increasingly upset, Nina reassures him that she is alright.
Later, while seated at a diner, Joe has a violent suicidal fantasy and passes out. Nina wakes him, saying, "It's a beautiful day." He agrees, and they leave together.
On 11 May 2016, it was reported that Lynne Ramsay would write and direct an adaptation of Jonathan Ames' novella You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix. The project would be shopped to Cannes buyers. Although it was initially reported that A24 had acquired the project, Amazon Studios bought U.S. rights to You Were Never Really Here on 13 May 2016. Principal photography took place during August 2016 in and around New York City. Some interior scenes were shot at Kaufman Astoria Studios. On 2 May 2017, it was confirmed that composer Jonny Greenwood would score the film. The film was still a work in progress when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 27 May 2017.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 266 reviews, with an average rating of 8.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bracingly elevated by a typically committed lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay as one of modern cinema's most unique—and uncompromising—voices." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Sheila O'Malley of RogerEbert.com gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, saying that the film "is a taut and almost unbearably intense 90-minutes, without an ounce of fat on it. Ramsay doesn't give you a second to breathe." Guy Lodge for Variety said Ramsay may be the world's "greatest working filmmaker," and called the film "astonishing... a stark, sinewy, slashed-to-the-bone hitman thriller far more concerned with the man than the hit."
Some have noted similarities with You Were Never Really Here and the 1976 film Taxi Driver with both films involving friendships between an adult male and a child victim of prostitution and exploring the seedy underworld of New York City.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Ref.|
|British Academy Film Awards||10 February 2019||Outstanding British Film||Lynne Ramsay, Rosa Attab, Pascal Caucheteux, and James Wilson||Nominated|||
|British Independent Film Awards||2 December 2018||Best British Independent Film||Lynne Ramsay, Pascal Caucheteux, Rosa Attab, James Wilson and Rebecca O’Brien||Nominated|||
|Best Director||Lynne Ramsay||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Joaquin Phoenix||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Lynne Ramsay||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Thomas Townend||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Joe Bini||Nominated|
|Best Music||Jonny Greenwood||Won|
|Best Sound||You Were Never Really Here||Won|
|Cannes Film Festival||28 May 2017||Palme d'Or||You Were Never Really Here||Nominated|||
|Best Actor||Joaquin Phoenix||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Lynne Ramsay||Won|
|Independent Spirit Awards||23 February 2019||Best Feature||Rosa Attab, Pascal Caucheteux, Rebecca O’Brien, Lynne Ramsay and James Wilson||Nominated|||
|Best Director||Lynne Ramsay||Nominated|
|Best Male Lead||Joaquin Phoenix||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Joe Bini||Won|
|Noir Film Festival||9 December 2017||Special Jury Award||Lynne Ramsay||Won|||
|Black Lion||You Were Never Really Here||Nominated|
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- Cannes reception:
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (28 May 2017). "How Lynne Ramsay Got Over 'Jane Got A Gun' & Embraced Joaquin Phoenix Noir 'You Were Never Really Here' – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
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- O'Malley, Sheila (6 April 2018). "You Were Never Really Here". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
- Lodge, Guy (26 May 2017). "Film Review: 'You Were Never Really Here'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
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- Kate Erbland (16 November 2018). "2019 Independent Spirit Award Nominations". Indiewire.
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