You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

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Lost Highway
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#51 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:46 am

Adam Grikepelis wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:49 am
I've not yet seen You Were Never Really Here, and really don't remember how I felt about We Need to Talk About Kevin as I've only watched it once, so I can only comment in relation to her first two features.
I do feel, Lost Highway, like we're looking for different things in cinema based on your comments. I've found those two films to be pretty mesmerising, and find that while there's a narrative that holds things together, they're very much about character more than anything else. Not the mundane approach of watching a character go through experience and evolve changed at the end of it, but rather bearing witness to a characters experience from a very subjective point of view. The style, visual and aural, supports this - they're not about telling you a story with a boring three-act structure. They're about seeing and feeling a transformative moment in a character's life.
Not all filmmakers continue on the same tangent they started with, so with this latest work, she may well've produced something as vacuous & horrible as a Zach Synder production, but I have a very hard time believing it; yet there are plenty of directors, writers, musicians, who started out with wonderful work only for that early promise to quickly peter out. Focussing on a film needing to prioritise "characterisation, structure and story-telling" is, I feel, missing what Ramsay is doing in favour of what you feel she should be doing.

And I wouldn't say the number of films a director has made is any indication of their worth as a filmmaker. Not everyone is willing or able to produce a film every two or three years, especially when they're not working within a system like Hollywood, though I've never personally been interested in an artist's personal relations anywhere near as much as I am in the work they produce. Besides, pretty much every filmmaker has had many projects that haven't made it to fruition. There are obviously many more factors involved than the personality of the director.
I really don’t need to have it explained to me that not all filmmakers are conventional storytellers. The majority of my favorite filmmakers are focused on audio/visual aspects rather than being focused on narrative and characterization. That doesn't mean that every filmmaker who takes that approach is successful and I just don't recognise the visionary genius in Ramsay that others see in her. I've read interviews with Ramsay where she claims that she gravitates towards character studies and her films always aspire to that and they fail. And yes, I know that a character study can also be done in a way that's less conventional and more focused on visuals and mood. Her British compatriots Jonathan Glazer and Andrea Arnold are the real deal as far as I'm concerned and both of them are audio/visually oriented filmmakers but their films also succeed in character studies.
MoonlitKnight wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:34 am
Not to mention she's managed to make only 4 films in 20 years; she often seems attached to various projects that have fallen apart while she was associated with them ("The Lovely Bones," "Jane Got a Gun," etc.), which would lead one to believe that she's not particularly the most reliable filmmaker in terms of working with others. Or am I reading too much into it?
Her walking out on Jane Got a Gun on the first day of the shoot no doubt did damage to her reputation as a reliable filmmaker. I believe The Lovely Bones wasn't her fault, she got passed over for Peter Jackson. There are scores of idiosyncratic, brilliant film-makers who take years between projects either due to their perfectionism or because it takes forever to get funding and sometimes both.

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MichaelB
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#52 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:06 am

A case in point: Debra Granik. I’d almost forgotten her existence when Leave No Trace showed up.

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#53 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:50 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:46 am
I really don’t need to have it explained to me that not all filmmakers are conventional storytellers...
That’s actually not what I was saying at all, and I’m not trying to explain to you, or convince you of, anything. I was talking specifically about Lynne Ramsay’s films, and my impressions of them (in response to yours), and I’m sorry if it came across otherwise.

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jazzo
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#54 Post by jazzo » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:27 am

Altair wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:58 am
MoonlitKnight wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:34 am
Not to mention she's managed to make only 4 films in 20 years; she often seems attached to various projects that have fallen apart while she was associated with them ("The Lovely Bones," "Jane Got a Gun," etc.), which would lead one to believe that she's not particularly the most reliable filmmaker in terms of working with others. Or am I reading too much into it?
I haven't seen any Lynne Ramsay films (but that's my fault), but this seems such a weird critique: Terrence Malick made two films in twenty-five years, and did anyone seriously question his talent because of that?
Well, I question it, but in a general sorta way, not because of the frequency with which he makes them.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#55 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:30 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:46 am
You Were Never Really Here was supposed to be an action thriller (and as such the most generic of premises with the most generic of protagonists) where she clearly hasn't mastered the basics of the genre. I'm sure her defenders would call it a deconstruction, but I don't buy it.
This assertion is what I'd take issue with; on what basis are you saying that the film was "supposed to be" anything other than what it is? Why assume that the elements of her film that subvert the basics of the action thriller genre are an attempt at deconstructing those tropes (or failing to execute them faithfully) instead of a clear indication that we shouldn't be expecting that kind of movie at all?

Also, Zach Snyder wishes he was the mainstream Lynne Ramsay in terms of visual technique, narrative coherency, or thematic weight.

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domino harvey
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#56 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:44 am

Sucker Punch is better than all of Ramsay's movies put together

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Lost Highway
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#57 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:52 am

DarkImbecile wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:30 am
Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:46 am
You Were Never Really Here was supposed to be an action thriller (and as such the most generic of premises with the most generic of protagonists) where she clearly hasn't mastered the basics of the genre. I'm sure her defenders would call it a deconstruction, but I don't buy it.
This assertion is what I'd take issue with; on what basis are you saying that the film was "supposed to be" anything other than what it is? Why assume that the elements of her film that subvert the basics of the action thriller genre are an attempt at deconstructing those tropes (or failing to execute them faithfully) instead of a clear indication that we shouldn't be expecting that kind of movie at all?

Also, Zach Snyder wishes he was the mainstream Lynne Ramsay in terms of visual technique, narrative coherency, or thematic weight.
Let me re-phrase that. The movie is built on the most basic tropes and conventions of the action thriller, its plot is that of every second Jason Statham movie. Of course I don't expect a conventional action movie from a director like Ramsay, I expect more. But apart from some striking images, I didn't feel I got a lot more than a basic action film with bungled action sequences. In terms of characterisation it was almost as basic as a Statham vehicle. The abuse trauma of the lead was the most cliched character motivation imaginable and it was rendered in the most trite way possible via its artsy attempts at flashbacks.

The only thing I liked was the warm and funny relationship between Phoenix' character and his mother, but that made up about five minutes of the movie.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#58 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:04 pm

Lost Highway wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:52 am
But apart from some striking images, I didn't feel I got a lot more than a basic action film with bungled action sequences.
I don't think I'm going to drag you over to the right side of film history here, so I'll let it go after this, but characterizing what would in another movie be the marquee action sequences as "bungled" implies that they were attempted to be executed like those in a particularly grim Jason Statham movie, or even as directly as Taxi Driver's climax. I'd argue those sequences were very purposefully and expertly de-emphasized so that the viewers' focus isn't on elegantly choreographed violence but on the implications of that violence for the central character; we clearly disagree on the efficacy of this characterization through action, but I think to label the depictions of violence as incompetently executed is a misreading of their purpose in the film.

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Lost Highway
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#59 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:16 pm

True, I'd regard that reading as charitable.

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Persona
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#60 Post by Persona » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:24 pm

Finally caught this on Blu and I find my opinion caught between some of the opinions expressed here. There is enough that I admire about the film and Ramsay's approach to the subject matter that it's currently in my Top 5 films of the year (I haven't seen a lot, though) while still leaving me kind of cold.

First off, I am surprised by some of the accolades for the screenplay when this was at Cannes because it is such a bare-bones narrative with nothing particularly impressive about the dialogue or the story and nothing terribly original, either (and I'd have to watch again but I also don't know how much sense certain plot points make). It's very much a Taxi Driver core with Travis' rambling paranoia and psychotic delusions swapped out for Joe's PTSD. It's not just derivative on that front, though. Greenwood's score is a good one but at times the way it joined with the scenes, especially the opening sequence, felt like an indirect lift from Refn's Drive. And there are other Drive parallels throughout the film.

I found Ramsay's visual approach (especially with some of those close-up inserts) to be evocative at times and I admired the restraint and concision, which was almost novel for a film that's basically a pulp exploitation flick in genre but not aesthetic, but then on the flip-side of those qualities find the film not really effective as a thriller or a character study. The coy approach to extreme violence is perhaps the most interesting thing about the movie, and that's kind of sad because it doesn't give you a lot of thematic ground that isn't somewhat meta-textual.

Anyways, the 90 minutes surely breezed by and, yes, there are a few truly wonderful moments and scenes where you can see Ramsay's vision elevating the material she is working with (again, those inserts, a couple of the set-pieces, and that scene on the kitchen floor). I don't think Ramsay's found the perfect click yet between her aesthetic and a strong, nuanced narrative that works well with what she does, but I certainly hope it's not another 6 years before we get another feature film from her because I think she's capable of making something really, really good.

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knives
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#61 Post by knives » Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:50 pm

This is a gorgeous film, but to what end? There are plenty of other well made and beautiful movies so on the judgment of that what makes this especially unique from watching a Brakhage film? Character could be an argument and Joe definitely fits the Ramsey character type, but even within her small filmography this character has been explored with more depth and interest by her. His PTSD is obviously the major concern, but beyond generic, and incorrect, behaviors with his mother and a few freakouts there's nothing here that complicates his archetype. This might be a weird comparison, but Hong Sang Soo is able to go as minimalist as Ramsey aims for him in part because of the depth of difference his productive career has provided, but also because the difference is etched out with great depth allowing the difference to be a theme in itself. Joe's unique traits aren't established enough for that level of minimalism to work.

Going beyond theme the story Ramsey is attached to isn't much either. It's familiar from Prime Cut and Night Moves among many other familiar tales of broken men aiding girls. Now that I think on it thematically as well as aesthetically the late Tony Scott's great Man on Fire renders this totally null and void. The only distinguishing factor, without judgement on quality, is that of class. Scott's world is a wealthy one whereas this reflects Ramsey's ongoing interest in the working class, which her masterpiece interestingly elided. I;m not sure how much of this is from the book, but from the Ohio setting to the housing and what not this is a very low down film. It does not have to be that way considering that this is the story of a kidnapped senator's daughter proving it to be at least somewhat a deliberate choice. That aspect of the film is legitimately great and I don't want to detract from that, but it is also left merely as a background theme and so the film doesn't overcome it's rote expression just because of it. Hopefully one day Ramsey will make another We Need to Talk About Kevin though at least she still maintains a great style aided by a great score and actors.

I must say though that the reading of the ending earlier in this thread does improve upon the movie significantly. I'm less interested in genre deconstruction now, but I would see how that ending would put the movie over the top for a lot of people.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#62 Post by Big Ben » Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:07 am

You're correct that it's a deconstruction but Ramsay's film strips out a lot of the the genres idealized notions about male killers. The violence exhibited is coming from someone who in Ramsay's own words "has got broken glass in his head." He's less valiant crusader and more than someone drifting through the motions. I interpreted the film as being about someone who very much wanted to die in some respect but truly lacked the ability to go through with it. Joe is a man of violence and it's how he relates to the world.
SpoilerShow
He experienced when his father became physically violent. He experienced it in war and he experienced it when working for the FBI. He doesn't kill because he feels some compulsion to do so like Ted Bundy but he's most certainly not the charming rogue that Yojimbo was either. He's simply doing what he does best, the difference is is that the violence takes a toll on his psyche which is why he's always trying to asphyxiate himself or in one instance, drown himself.
Regarding the narrative itself:
SpoilerShow
As maudlin as it sounds I felt the film is about redemption by saving someone, therefore breaking if, but for a moment the cycle of violence that has been perpetuated for years. Obviously I think it's completely asinine to say that Joe saving the young girl has solved his issues (We of course get the fake out of him shooting himself in the head.) but for the briefest moment Joe is at peace. The comparisons to Taxi Driver are obvious but I don't think Joe would be going out like Travis will be.
On a side note this is the only film by Ramsay I've seen. Are all of her films like this one, narratively speaking?

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#63 Post by dda1996a » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:14 am

They're all very subjective, with barely any plot given. Having liked this, I'd say her prior films are a lot better. I'd start with her shorts which are beautiful, but there's probably no other filmmaker I'd wish made more films.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#64 Post by nitin » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:53 am

wait Man on Fire is a great film?

Snark aside (sorry I find Man on Fire absolutely terrible), I will say, and others have already said this including Big Ben’s post above, that what Ramsay aims for (and achieves) here is the complete opposite, at least in terms of character and psychological effect, of what something like Man on Fire sets out to do.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#65 Post by dda1996a » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:05 am

Personally I do agree the narrative itself is very lacking which is the only issue I have with the film, that it feels very slight. But Ramsay's filmmaking is just amazing. I watched this before any Denis film, but I found it to be very much about "touch" and how Phoenix looks for human connections, emotional or physical. There's a reason there are so many shots of hands/legs and this unity of skin.
Maybe I'd love this even more on a rewatch, but as it stands Movern Callar is the film to beat.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#66 Post by knives » Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:34 am

nitin wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:53 am
wait Man on Fire is a great film?

Snark aside (sorry I find Man on Fire absolutely terrible), I will say, and others have already said this including Big Ben’s post above, that what Ramsay aims for (and achieves) here is the complete opposite, at least in terms of character and psychological effect, of what something like Man on Fire sets out to do.
How so? That film also takes away heroism by making Washington's violence for naught.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#67 Post by nitin » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:52 pm

High level plot wise, sure, but I t revels in the violence and Creasy also doesn’t come across as someone just going through the motions because killing is all that he can do (efficiently).

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#68 Post by knives » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:59 pm

This film doesn't have Phoenix just going through the motions. It definitely suggests that he is so broken by a history of violence that he doesn't have much he is comfortable doing besides violence. Now this film is a more optimistic look at such a character because the ending suggests that the cycle can be broken in a way leading to better health. Scott instead goes for an absolute self destruction as a solution. Washington is still pretty impotent though given how useless his killing actually is to the rescue of Fanning.

As for reveling in the violence, so? Even if it were to matter both films take surprisingly similar approaches breaking up the violence to reflect the character's psychology so that it is not presented in a coherent fashion. The difference is whereas Scott breaks up the violence through abstract editing Ramsey does so through elision which makes sense given their respective psychologies.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#69 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:30 pm

knives wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:59 pm
Washington is still pretty impotent though given how useless his killing actually is to the rescue of Fanning.
That's not how I remember Man on Fire at all; Washington is very effectively killing everyone involved in the kidnapping and double-cross purely for revenge, and when he discovers that Fanning's alive (because he's killing his way closer and closer to the kidnapper's inner circle), it's the threat of further violence against the kidnapper's family that initiates the swap for her. I don't see Scott's film as diminishing or undermining Washington's heroism or the utility of his deployment of violence at all, while Ramsey's very much does that in Phoenix's case.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#70 Post by knives » Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:54 pm

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The trade has to occur because Washington's murder spree helped muck up the original exchange for the money showing it to be actively hurtful.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#71 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:00 pm

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It's been awhile since I've seen it, but I don't think that's right; as I remember it, the exchange is botched — while Creasy's still recovering from wounds sustained in the initial kidnapping — because the corrupt police official organizes the theft of the exchange (which is itself a scam perpetrated by the father for the insurance money). Creasy's rampage comes after he believes the girl has already been killed in retaliation for the failed handoff, and leads directly to her recovery.

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knives
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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#72 Post by knives » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:13 pm

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I'll have to double check, but the first exchange happens about halfway in.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#73 Post by dda1996a » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:25 pm

Don't know if this forum has always been a champion of the Scotts or just Domino, but I never thought I'd be present to a discussion on Ramsay and Scott (on the other hand even Bordwell compared T. Scott to Angelopoulos!)

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#74 Post by knives » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:28 pm

Weirdly I don't think domino is a fan though there's been a few people who have mentioned being fans of at least his post Crimson Tide work.

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Re: You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)

#75 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:33 pm

He must mean the movie, Domino, though initially I read it the same as you and thought "when did domino become a Tony Scott partisan?"

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