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You Were Never Really Here

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Engaging yet divisive, Ramsay's film marries style with substance in a complex, rewarding watch. Recommended.

    You Were Never Really Here Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • You Were Never Really Here's Blu-ray delivers a technically solid yet stylistically gritty image, balancing detailed scenes with intentional aesthetic choices that reflect its dark, noir tone.

  • Audio
  • The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers an immersive, nuanced soundscape with wide dynamic range, precise imaging, and excellent fidelity, enhancing the film's intense, atmospheric mood despite occasionally soft dialogue.

  • Extra
  • It's disappointing that Lionsgate's release might be the first to replace typical Bonus Features with 'Other Options,' offering merely trailers and bookmarks, which hardly count as valuable supplements.

  • Movie
  • A riveting, darkly artistic film, 'You Were Never Really Here' contrasts grim reality with stylistic flair, as Joaquin Phoenix's intense portrayal of a tortured soul delves into themes of trauma and redemption.

    Video: 77

    You Were Never Really Here" benefits from a robust Blu-ray presentation by Lionsgate Films, featuring an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in the cinematic aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Utilizing the Arri Alexa XT camera for digital capture, the film's imagery, while presumably finalized in a 2K digital intermediate, showcases an impressive degree of detail and texture, notwithstanding occasional lighting and grading decisions that impact shadow delineation and fine detail visibility. Director Lynne Ramsay and cinematographer Thomas Townend employ a deliberate mix of framings and perspectives that enrich the visual narrative. Although much of the film is tinted with cool blue tones, affecting shadow detail and fine textures, selected scenes break this pattern, offering a naturalistic, warmer palette with vivid saturation levels.

    The film's visual style is both gritty and textured, embracing its dark themes with a digital cleanliness that is mostly free of artifacts, albeit with slight issues such as false contouring in lower-light conditions. A light to moderate layer of digital grain infuses the picture with a tactile quality reminiscent of 70s/80s exploitation thrillers, enhancing the overall aesthetic without detracting from clarity. Despite these stylistic choices leading to a somewhat drab color scheme, dominated by sickly yellows/greens and somber blues, they align well with the noir-infused narrative. Contrast is competently managed, featuring balanced whites and deep blacks which contribute to the film’s intended visual tone.

    The image quality is consistently solid, though not reaching the hyper-sharpness seen in some contemporary digital films. This choice maintains the movie's gritty aura, complemented by a mostly artifact-free presentation. While minor issues such as false contouring and a few softer shots slightly mar the otherwise consistent quality, they do little to detract from an overall commendable video transfer. The intentional aesthetic choices—from grain level to color palette—serve to underscore the film's bleak, yet stylistically coherent narrative vision.

    Audio: 77

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track accompanying "You Were Never Really Here" on Blu Ray stands as a testament to the nuanced and immersive sound design that envelopes the viewer from the opening whispers. Characterized by a carefully constructed soundscape that mirrors protagonist Joe's psychological complexities, audio elements drift seamlessly across the surround channels, crafting an auditory representation of his fracturing psyche. The sound design employs a unique montage of effects and sound cues, including an eclectic mix of Bernard Herrmann's compositions and tracks by Engelbert Humperdinck (the pop singer), creating an unexpectedly rich auditory experience. This ambitious blend, coupled with a wide dynamic range and excellent fidelity, ensures that even the most subtle sounds are rendered with clarity and depth.

    Dialogue in the film, while predominantly clear, veers towards the lower end of the audio spectrum, reflecting the characters' tendencies towards whispering or mumbling. This choice occasionally challenges audibility but serves to enhance the film's intimate atmosphere. Ambient sounds—ranging from the urban murmurs of dogs barking and cars passing to the natural tranquility of wind chimes—are meticulously balanced in the mix, offering a vivid sense of space and dimension. The precision in imaging smoothly transitions sound across channels, effectively enveloping the viewer in the film's setting and Joe's haunting flashbacks.

    The soundtrack’s power emerges not just from its subtleties but also through its robust deployment of Johnny Greenwood's electronic score, which punctuates the narrative with both atmospheric tension and deep bass responses during moments of intensity. The overall audio experience is thereby magnified; it crafts a palpable, wide-ranging atmosphere that complements the film’s mood and texture. Surround usage elevates the urban and psychological landscapes explored in the movie, while the detailed layering of sound effects and music underscores an evocative and immersive auditory journey.


    The Blu-ray release of "You Were Never Really Here" by Lionsgate presents an uncharacteristically sparse selection of extras. Despite anticipating a suite of supplementary materials, viewers are met with the stark reality that the only features provided under the ambiguously titled "Other Options" menu are effectively limited to promotional content for other Lionsgate films and a bookmarks feature. This departure from the norm does not cater to audiences seeking deeper insights or added value beyond the primary film experience, thereby underlining a missed opportunity to enhance viewer engagement with additional context or behind-the-scenes content.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Other Options: Includes trailers for other Lionsgate releases and a bookmarks feature.

    Movie: 74

    In the visually stirring yet narratively disjointed "You Were Never Really Here," Lynne Ramsay ventures into the depths of a tortured psyche, delivering an art house counterpart to mainstream revenge thrillers. Centered around the brooding, mercurial presence of Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, a traumatized veteran entangled in a web of corruption while attempting to rescue a senator's abducted daughter, the film echoes thematic and stylistic notes reminiscent of "Taxi Driver." Unlike Scorsese's gritty New York canvas, however, Ramsay opts for a more hallucinatory approach, blurring the lines between Joe's haunting past and the stark violence of his present mission. Her stylistic choices – from disorienting montages to a reliance on a near-hallucinatory sound design – occasionally overshadow the narrative, veering towards an overtly artful direction that may alienate viewers seeking more grounded storytelling.

    Phoenix's transformation into the haggard and haunted Joe is nothing short of magnetic, embodying both the physicality and the mental fragility of a man on the brink. The film’s distinct lack of exposition, favoring visual and aural texture over verbal clarification, forces audiences into Joe's disquieting reality, punctuated by moments of brutal clarity. Despite Ramsay's ambitious melding of form and content, the coherence of Joe's journey at times gets lost amidst the film’s stylistic flourishes. This is somewhat mitigated by scenes that skillfully subvert expectations, including a remarkably tender moment juxtaposing violence with an almost absurd sense of camaraderie and empathy.

    While "You Were Never Really Here" crafts an immersive atmosphere steeped in dread and introspection, its fragmentation might confound viewers expecting a more conventional narrative arc. The film undeniably benefits from Phoenix’s riveting performance and Ramsay’s bold directorial vision, offering a relentlessly grim exploration of trauma and vengeance that forsakes easy answers for a deeper, albeit murkier, meditation on the specters that haunt us. Against the backdrop of its arthouse ambitions, the movie manages to deliver a searing critique of violence and salvation in modern America, albeit one wrapped in layers of stylistic complexity that may not resonate universally.

    Total: 69

    You Were Never Really Here" emerges as a compelling yet divisive experience, journeying into the psychological depths of its central character, Joe, against the backdrop of a somewhat cliched narrative involving abducted girls. Lynne Ramsay's ambitious direction comes under scrutiny, with opinions divided on her stylistic choices. Some critics laud the film for its captivating blend of unsettling themes and the commanding performance by Joaquin Phoenix, who brings an intense, if not disturbing, energy to Joe. However, there's a sentiment that Ramsay’s penchant for visual and auditory embellishments—though they make the film stylistically unique—may detract from the raw storytelling at its core.

    From a technical standpoint, the Blu-ray presentation of the film is praised for its robust video and audio quality which effectively complements Ramsay’s artistic vision, elevating the visceral and ethereal tones that define the movie’s atmosphere. Notably, the lack of supplementary material on the disc is a missed opportunity to deepen the viewer's understanding and appreciation of Ramsay's intricate filmmaking process and the psychological layers embedded within the story.

    In conclusion, "You Were Never Really Here" stands out as an audaciously crafted film that polarizes opinion. Its blend of conventional plot elements with innovative narrative and visual strategies will intrigue those drawn to cinematic experimentation and Phoenix’s formidable talent. Nonetheless, potential viewers should temper expectations regarding supplementary Blu-ray content and be prepared for Ramsay's distinctive stylistic approach which, while divisive, is undeniably a significant part of the film's allure. For those attuned to Ramsay’s previous works and in search of films that challenge genre norms, this Blu-ray presentation comes recommended with caveats.