AskJanet’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Just because you’re used to something doesn’t mean you like it. You’re used to me.”
Maybe not the right movie to watch on mothers day?
A quietly horrifying film, with a chilling performance from Ezra Miller, one of the more exciting actors to emerge this decade, and a brilliant performance from Tilda Swinton, an actress who is perfectly suited to depicting coolness but also shows heartbreaking hints of vulnerability here.
The timeline is disjointed throughout the film and the flashbacks and forwards are particularly jarring at the beginning, which I found frustrating, but it certainly puts you on edge and sets the tone for an unnerving narrative. I enjoyed it more once we saw more of Kevin’s childhood, however, while the film names Kevin, this is ultimately Tilda’s film, a study of a mother who struggles to love a seemingly unlovable son. Those looking for answers about why Kevin is like he is, or what was “talked about” will not find them in this film, other than some Psych 101 points raised about psychopathy in children and attachment theory in general. Other than a perfunctory visit to a Dr who swiftly rules out Autism, there are no depictions of therapist interventions here. I haven’t read Shriver’s book and am keen to see if it is more explored there. However, the fact that Kevin remains a mystery seems apt considering that this is more his mother’s story. Even less time is spent with the father, a hapless John C Reilly who starts to look a bit dim given Kevin’s malevolence.
I had never seen a film by Lynne Ramsay before and I’m excited to see You Were Never Really Here. This was artistically rather than sensationally shot, with repeated motifs of red paint and blood, constant time shifts and almost dream sequences and wonderfully dissonant musical choices, my favourite being The Beach Boys’ “In My Room” in a particularly unsettling scene. A difficult watch but strongly recommended.