Lynne Ramsay was never really trying to break the mold. The director of this year’s critical darling You Were Never Really Here chooses her movies with discretion, with a six-year gap between the Joaquin Phoenix-starring noir thriller and her last film, the haunting psychological drama We Need to Talk About Kevin. Only four feature films total populate Ramsay’s entire catalogue, each of them critically beloved, each of them inflicting a different kind of violence upon the audience. “We’ve seen a lot of violence in film that it’s become almost banal,” Ramsay told /Film in an interview ahead of You Were Never Really Here‘s digital release on the Amazon Prime streaming platform. “It’s actually more scary not to show it.”

That’s the genius of You Were Never Really Here, a taut and moody thriller centering around Phoenix’s PTSD-suffering hit man who rescues trafficked girls. In other hands, the film would paint Phoenix as a glamorous lone wolf, an anti-hero who beats down societal corruption with his bare fists. But in Ramsay’s hands and in Phoenix’s gaunt, weary performance, You Were Never Really Here shows us a different kind of anti-hero.

Here is what Ramsay had to say about defying the “knight in shining armor” clichés, Phoenix’s role in shaping the character of Joe, and what Ramsay thinks about Phoenix’s current role as the Joker.

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lynne ramsay interview

You know you’re not going to see an average genre piece from writer-director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin). With her new Joaquin Pheonix-led movie, You Were Never Really Here, Ramsay has made an unflinching thriller that follows its own rules instead of conventions. Based on Jonathan Aames‘ (Bored to Death) novel, Ramsay uses a few familiar genre elements to tell a story that’s as much about PTSD as it is about an assassin searching for a kidnapped teen.

A thriller told through Ramsay’s lens has the physical action play off-screen, and what’s going on within Phoenix’s character take center stage in almost every frame. The way Ramsay and her collaborators depict the character’s point-of-view and New York City is unnerving, sometimes hellish. Even a shot of a jelly bean is hard to shake after watching You Were Never Really Here.

We recently spoke with Ramsay about her fourth feature film, her first experience shooting digitally, making her first genre piece, Johnny Greenwood‘s score, and more.

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you were never really here

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here.)

There’s a lot going on in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, and we see almost none of it. And yet, we still see everything we need to see. With a shockingly sparse presentation, Ramsay has concocted a lean, mean movie that skimps on specifics yet still packs a wallop. It’s one of the most remarkable examples of less-is-more storytelling in recent memory.

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You Were Never Really Here Review

Revenge thrillers are usually a dime a dozen. A bad guy messes with the wrong guy at the wrong time in the wrong way, and all hell breaks loose. These kind of movies seem to have gotten even more redundant ever since Taken became a hit and revitalized this subgenre of action films, but thankfully there are also standouts like Blue Ruin and John Wick proving that these kind of movies can still kick-ass and feature quality filmmaking. Now, another revenge thriller has come along, this time for the arthouse crowd to eat up.

You Were Never Really Here follows Joaquin Phoenix as a hired gun recruited on the down-low through a simple but secretive operator service to deliver pain to people who have done some bad things. In the hands of a blockbuster filmmaker, this would be a straightforward action movie, but in the hands of We Need to Talk About Kevin director Lynne Ramsay, the experience is so much more cerebral. This film, based on Jonathan Ames’ novel of the same name, is also painfully brutal and intense. Read More »

You Were Never Really Here trailer

After a six year break from features, director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) is back with You Were Never Really Here, a film that looks to be a cross between Taken and Taxi Driver. This violent drama debuted at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and earned high praise from those who caught it, and it’s easy to see why: this movie looks like it rules. Check out a new UK trailer for the film below.
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Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we get wild with Joaquin Phoenix, get Larry David involved in a real life murder situation, get a slice of life that feels incredibly real, get back to our teenage horror roots, light off some large firecrackers, and give it up for a smoothest dancer this side of the middle east. Read More »

Why Amazon Wants Their Movies Released Theatrically

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Amazon wants to start producing 15 movies a year with “top filmmakers.” They’ve already collaborated with some notable directors, having joined forces with David O. Russell and Nicolas Winding Refn for some shows, in addition to distributing Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester by the Sea. Now, they’re producing the latest films from Todd Haynes (Carol) and Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), and for a good reason, the company wants their work shown in a theater like the rest of us.

Below, learn why Amazon theatrical releases matter to the distributor.

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27 People Who Could (or Should) Direct ‘The Batman’

the batman director

Yesterday, Ben Affleck stepped down from directing The Batman. One day, someone is going to write a book explaining exactly what was going on behind-the-scenes at Warner Bros. that led to this revolving door of filmmakers on all of their projects. We’ll surely know someday. But not today.

So today is a day of speculation. As Matt Reeves and Mat Ross emerge as apparent frontrunners, it’s time to do that thing where we make a list of people who should direct the next Batman movie. Some of these names are totally plausible. Some are wishful thinking. Others are here just because the thought of them directing a big-budget superhero movie makes me giggle uncontrollably. Most of all, this an excuse for us to just goof off and daydream while Warner Bros. figures everything out.

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you were never really here

We’ve reached the point where Joaquin Phoenix deciding to star in a movie is nothing short of an event. He’s picky these days, but that pickiness tends to work out for just about everyone – he works with some of the best and most interesting filmmakers alive and he consistently turns in phenomenal performances. Everybody wins, especially movie fans.

So that brings us to You Were Never Really Here, a thriller that will team Phoenix with director Lynne Ramsay. This news doesn’t bring me to Joaquin Phoenix/Paul Thomas Anderson levels of interest quite yet, but it’s certainly close.

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Bradley Cooper

The all-star lineup for Jane Got a Gun is changing again, hopefully for the last time. Bradley Cooper has just joined the Gavin O’Connor-directed Western in the villain role vacated last month by Jude Law — who was himself a replacement for Joel Edgerton, who switched characters when Michael Fassbender departed.

The troubled Western has seen some serious shakeups over the past few weeks, most famously when original director Lynne Ramsay quit by simply not showing up on the first day of production. O’Connor was quickly brought in to take her place. The one major player who’s remained steadily in place throughout is Natalie Portman, who plays the title character and also serves as a producer. Hit the jump to keep reading.

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