There's a real ugliness to humanity, no question about it. Some people are more than willing to throw others under the bus for their own selfish needs. But how far will these figures go as they slip further into immoral depravity?
When fiction depicts such corruption, more often than not police officers and politicians are the ones put under the microscope. But that's not to say the average person is immune from such a sensation, far from it. What seems to be the case is that the allure of money and power is too strong for them to resist, falling prey to that for control soon after. (Maybe John Dalberg-Acton was onto something...)
Jonathan Ames' You Were Never Really Here depicts a man trying to hide from such a dehumanizing society, both figuratively and literally. Having endured numerous traumas in his life, Joe now serves as a hired gun tasked with saving girls forced into sex work. But with his latest assignment, he delves into a world darker than his own demons.
Lynne Ramsay's adaptation tweaks the details of Ames' novella considerably but that in itself provides a new perspective. Joaquin Phoenix is great (as he so often is) but special mention goes to the sound mixing and Jonny Greenwood's score. That combination captures the damaged frame of mind Joe deals with every waking moment. (Hopefully awards voters will remember them by year's end.)
So which is better: Ames' take on the story or Ramsay's? The author maintains a more visceral perspective for You Were Never Really Here while the director focuses more on Joe's fractured mental state. They obviously take different approaches to the same story but that's not generally a bad thing. If anything, it shows there are two sides to every story.
What's worth checking out?: Both.