5. You Were Never Really Here
It’s been too long since the last Lynne Ramsay film (We Need to Talk about Kevin), but her latest feature shows she’s lost none of her bite or ferocity. In the hands of a lesser director, You Were Never Really Here would just be Taken with Joaquin Phoenix, but Ramsay turns the picture into a fascinating portrait of violence and madness. The brutality is absolutely visceral, but Ramsay never loses the thread of her protagonist, who has been consumed by a lifestyle he never really wanted and no longer knows how to escape.
Reminiscent of Taxi Driver, and energized by Phoenix’s magnetic embodiment of masculine suffering and sorrow, You Were Never Really Here delivers. It’s a gut-wrenching portrait of a volatile man’s attempts to achieve some measure of solace from his inner demons—sometimes via the use of a ball-peen hammer. The film also features one of Phoenix’s best performances, making full use of both his vulnerability and his viciousness.