You Were Never Really Here revels in doing the unexpected.
In fact, the decisions its director Lynne Ramsay and star Joaquin Phoenix make throughout the film are so startling and original that you can’t help but laugh from time to time. Which is pretty odd when you consider all of the darkness, violence and gore that runs throughout the film.
According to Ramsay and Phoenix, there is no need to feel alarmed about laughing, though. The pair told me that’s exactly what they want you to do when I sat down with them earlier this week to discuss “You Were Never Really Here.”
After telling Phoenix just how funny I found the film he responded, “Yeah. There is a lot of sh** that is really f***ing funny. I mean you’re not playing stuff for laughs. We both have a sense of humor and could appreciate that part.”
“That was important,” added Ramsay. “We didn’t want this to be dark. It was all played in different ways by Joaquin, too.”
“Someone was saying to me that people were laughing out loud in scenes and they weren’t sure that was ok. And I was like, ‘Great! You’re meant to do whatever you want to do.’”
“There’s no set thing. People seemed to suggest that people laughing made it feel like a lesser thing. That was entirely what I wanted to do.”
For Phoenix, the fact that “You Were Never Really Here” has provoked such a wide variety of reactions underlines its success.
“Most movies make it very specific what you are meant to feel in every single moment and you are led directly there.”
“So the idea of having various different ways to react to something, and making it elicit something you didn’t expect, isn’t that what we wanted? I hate being told what to feel in a movie. I want multiple choice.”
“You Were Never Really Here” is now in cinemas.