IronWatcher’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched on Blu-Ray
If you take the depressive keynote of Taxi Driver, add the synthie soundtrack of Drive and then see the whole thing staged with the bulkiness of Only God Forgives, then I think you can imagine quite well what kind of film director Lynne Ramsay created with "You Were Never Really Here". In Germany the movie has the title "A Beautiful Day".
Nevertheless Ramsay's film offers such a pulling effect to the deeply traumatized loner Joe, who takes care of his demented mother in the evening and occasionally rescues young girls from the clutches of child molesters in daring, brutal rescue operations, that the mere comparison with the above-mentioned films doesn't do justice to this film.
The dark past of the suicidal protagonist, which is only hinted at in brief, immediate flashbacks, gives him something desolate and mysterious at the same time.
In general, you shouldn't expect an action movie at all. It's more about a psychogram of a tortured soul, which gets new courage through a new determination (the rescue of the daughter of a senator), but soon realizes that this mission is more dangerous than others.
The viewer mostly only sees the violent and bloody arguments in the movie indirectly through recordings of video cameras or as soon as they have already happened. Joe often enters a room in which violence has already happened. Violence isn't as direct as Joe's traumas are dealt with.
Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely brilliant in his portrayal of Joe. As the original title of the film already suggests, he moves through the film with an almost transcendent inconspicuousness and seems already dead inside. With the beard he reminded me of Mel Gibson.
The film is 90 minutes long and thus has the optimal length for the story that Lynne Ramsay wants to tell. If you like unusual cinema, you should take a look.