You Were Never Really Here

Well, I kept my losing streak going. I followed-up two disappointing films (Foxtrot and Lean on Pete) with what will possibly be the worst film of 2018.

You Were Never Really HereLet me make this review short and to the point. I wish the title of the film You Were Never Really Here applied to members of the audience.

Although Joaquin Phoenix has proven that he can make questionable films interesting, the purpose of his new film seems to be little more than to insult the audience. It is confusing, pointless and dull beyond description. At the risk of being a tad bit sarcastic, if one of the Phoenix boys had to die young, I wish it was River that had survived.

To the extent that I understood this film, Phoenix plays a guy named Joe, a violent bearded veteran who hires out to find missing girls. In the process, he smashes their abductors/companions to the edge of death with a handy ball peen hammer.

While there are many staggeringly ridiculous moments in this film, the fact that it takes place in Cincinnati and Joe continually escapes any meaningful investigation by the local police ranks right at the top. He leaves a slew of assaulted men in his wake and does little more than return home to a deranged mother, played by Judith Roberts. Mom is nearly as insane as her son, and the only thing you really learn from this disaster is that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

To the extent that there is a plot, it involves Joe’s job of finding a State Senator’s young daughter who has been spirited away to a brothel. To be quite honest, though a gang has been unleashed to get even with Joe, it is hard to understand why. It is even harder to care.

As I pointed out above, seeing any Joaquin Phoenix film is a risky adventure as seen in Irrational Man (2015), Inherent Vice (2014), Her (2013) and The Master (2012). His career leaves you hoping that he is not as psychologically damaged as the characters he repeatedly plays.