I loved everything about this movie.
I was mostly impressed, however, with the way Lynne Ramsay and her team managed to build up the protagonist without dialogue or clunky exposition, but with imagery.
Some would say “flashback” is a cop out way to create exposition. There are flashbacks in this film, but they are dealt out in a way that coincides with the PTSD of our protagonist as he naviagtes a horrific situation.
This appears, seemingly, difficult to achieve. Some of the best films of our time are structured to mirror the nuanced/internal struggle of the protagonist, but few pull it off as organically.
Watch this film and compare it to “Taken.”
Not quite the same premise, but I quickly realized how little I knew about Neeson’s character. We’re given exposition about his past, but he doesn’t appear affected by it that way Joe does here.
“Taken” also holds a significant body count. So does this film, yet every death feels powerful. We’ve been show Joe’s internal struggle as a veteran, so we know the blood splatters, the gunshots, all mean something.
In “Taken” Neeson plays a retired CIA officer, but he seems to have had a pretty tame career, maybe an office job?
“You Were Never Really Here” holds more power because of this. How a film is structured deeply affects how things like “shooting a man” are felt as an audience.
The ability to contain that structure and be cognizant of that psychology in edit is an incredible task.
I was floored by this film.