You Were Never Really Here

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You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Produced by
  • Rosa Attab
  • Pascal Caucheteux
  • James Wilson
  • Lynne Ramsay
Written by Lynne Ramsay
Based on You Were Never Really Here
by Jonathan Ames
Music by Jonny Greenwood
Cinematography Thomas Townend
Edited by Joe Bini
Distributed by Amazon Studios
Release date
  • 27 May 2017 (2017-05-27) (Cannes)
  • 8 November 2017 (2017-11-08) (France)
  • 9 March 2018 (2018-03-09) (UK)
  • 6 April 2018 (2018-04-06) (US)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • United States
Language English
Box office $2.8 million[2][3]

You Were Never Really Here is a 2017 thriller film written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, based on the novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, John Doman, and Judith Roberts.

An unfinished version of the film premiered at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in competition,[4][5] where Lynne Ramsay won the Best Screenplay award and Joaquin Phoenix won the award for Best Actor.[6] It was released by Studio Canal in the UK on 9 March 2018, and will be released in the US by Amazon Studios on 6 April 2018.[7]


Joe, a combat veteran and former FBI agent with post-traumatic stress disorder, is a hired gun who rescues trafficked girls, he cares for his elderly mother in his childhood home in New York City. Joe has graphic flashbacks to his childhood and past in the military and FBI.

Joe goes to his handler, McCleary, to receive his next job. A New York State Senator, Albert Votto, has offered a large sum of cash to discreetly find his abducted daughter, Nina. Votto received an anonymous text telling him an address, which turns out to be a brothel for wealthy patrons, that night, Joe stakes out the brothel then violently kills several security guards and patrons while recovering Nina.

Waiting at a motel to return Nina to Votto, Joes sees local news reports that Votto has apparently committed suicide. Corrupt police officers then storm the motel room and take Nina. Joe overpowers his guard and escapes.

Joe finds that McCleary has been tortured to death, presumably to reveal how to find Joe. Sneaking into his family home, Joe discovers corrupt federal agents have murdered his mother and are waiting for him, he ambushes them, killing one and mortally wounding the other. The wounded killer reveals that the whole conspiracy was orchestrated by Governor Williams, and that Nina was "his favorite."

Distraught and suicidal, Joe gives his mother a water burial, then follows Williams back to his country house, he fights his way in only to discover that Williams has had his throat slit. Joe wanders the mansion, distressed, before finding Nina in the kitchen with a straight razor, they are relieved to see each other and leave the mansion.

Later, Joe and Nina are in a diner, sitting silently. Joe collapses out of exhaustion and stress while having a violent suicidal fantasy. Nina wakes Joe, telling him, "It's a beautiful day.” Joe 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,[8] 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.[9] Principal photography took place during August 2016 in and around New York City,[10] on 2 May 2017, it was confirmed that composer Jonny Greenwood would score the film.[11] The film was still a work in progress when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 27 May 2017.[12][13]


You Were Never Really Here received a seven-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival premiere on 27 May 2017. Critics lauded Ramsay's direction, Phoenix's performance, Greenwood's score and Joe Bini's editing.[14] Phoenix won the festival's Best Actor Award and Lynne Ramsay won the Best Screenplay Award.

The film received an 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 8.7/10, from 67 critics. 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."[15] It holds a score of 86 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 13 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[16]

Guy Lodge for Variety said Ramsay may be the world's "greatest working filmmaker", and called it "astonishing ... a stark, sinewy, slashed-to-the-bone hitman thriller far more concerned with the man than the hit". Joseph Walsh for The Skinny gave the film a rating of five stars out of five and states "You Were Never Really Here is a brutal, punishing watch, but every minute is a masterclass in filmmaking. It's like a one-inch-punch to the gut, winding you from the start and giving you no respite, this exquisite examination of suffering will leave you staggering from the cinema".[17]


  1. ^ "A Beautiful Day". Centre National de la Cinématographie. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "A Beautiful Day (You Were Never Really Here)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  3. ^ "You Were Never Really Here". The Numbers. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  4. ^ "The 2017 Official Selection". Cannes. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  5. ^ "2017 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, 'Twin Peaks' and More". IndieWire. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Debruge, Peter (28 May 2017). "2017 Cannes Film Festival Award Winners Announced". Variety. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  7. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2 October 2017). "Joaquin Phoenix Noir 'You Were Never Really Here' Gets February Release". Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Calvario, Liz (11 May 2016). "Joaquin Phoenix To Star In Lynne Ramsay's Sex Trafficking Thriller 'You Were Never Really Here'". Indiewire. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  9. ^ Keslassy, Elsa; Setoodeh, Ramin (13 May 2016). "Cannes: Amazon Sweeps in To Buy Joaquin Phoenix's 'You Were Never Really Here'". Variety. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "Thursday, Aug. 18 Filming Locations for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Chicago Fire, Homeland, Bull, & more!". On Location Vacations. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  11. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (2 May 2017). "Jonny Greenwood Scoring Lynne Ramsay's 'You Were Never Really Here' With Joaquin Phoenix". IndieWire. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Romney, Jonathan (27 May 2017). "You Were Never Really Here review: Joaquin Phoenix storms Lynne Ramsay's kidnap thriller". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  13. ^ Pritchard, Tiffany (30 May 2017). "Lynne Ramsay: 'You Were Never Really Here' isn't finished". Screen International. Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  14. ^ Cannes reception:
  15. ^ "You Were Never Really Here (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  16. ^ "You Were Never Really Here Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  17. ^ "You Were Never Really Here review - The Skinny". 

External links[edit]