[THIS ESSAY CONTAINS ***SPOILERS*** REGARDING THE MOVIE YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE. THIS ESSAY CONTAINS DISCUSSION OF VIOLENT, FUCKED UP SHIT.]
Fuck leftist discourse.
It sucks to post about Lenin, Marx, etc. cuz if you're trying to impact the world, you gotta engage the people in it. It's not that you shouldn't study dusty tomes written by long dead luminaries, just know that's not a thing that 99.9999999% of people give a shit about.
Knock-knock joke time!
PERSON 1: KNOCK KNOCK
PERSON 2: WHO'S THERE?
PERSON 1: A MARXIST BOOK CLUB
PERSON 2: A MARXIST BOOK CLUB WHO?
PERSON 1: A MARXIST BOOK CLUB WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE IS TO GET YOU TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE HAVE ZERO INTEREST IN
There's a movie called You Were Never Really Here. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a dude named Joe who murders human traffickers. Director is Lynne Ramsay. When I watch movies, I write brief reviews after. I gave You Were Never Really Here ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
There's two moments where Joe wants to die but keeps living cuz of a sense he can bring a small amount of light into one of America's infinite dark corners. It's beautiful, terrifying. Ramsay's otherworldly technical and aesthetic acumen shines, as does Greenwood's score. Also awesome: In a wild and grim dialog with Taxi Driver, the consistently jarring sonic shift from quiet to loud, oh yeah and JOAQUIN PHOENIX.
My review was 69 words (lol). The review published in The Triumph, a local leftist rag, was 1,148 words.
I think The Triumph's review of You Were Never Really Here sucks ass. It asserts that the protagonist who's in every scene is the best part of the movie, and that the other characters aren't as strong. No shit, Sherlock. It's like, why write about movies if you don't care about them? Oh, because you want to make a Larger Point. I like to make a Larger Point via discussing shit that matters to me, but hey, whatever. The Larger Point begins when the movie is deemed "an ominous ideological prodct." Uh-oh.
The review says the goal of You Were Never Really Here is to "reproduce very real anxieties that average people feel about the wealthy." *BUZZER NOISE* WRONG! It's about PTSD, wanting to die, and living in a hyperviolent culture where nobody is safe. Ain't got shit to do with average peoples feels about the rich. CLASSIC example of "My perspective is what this thing is" bullshit. You go into watching a movie with a "Howdy-doody I'm gonna do An Analysis!" gung-ho wannabe cultural commentator vibe, you're fucked. Don't do it. There's power in saying NO!, even if it's to your own nonsense.
The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as a dude named Joe who murders human traffickers. The review calls him a "reluctant hero." But Joe's choices don't follow the heroic logic of a character like Batman, who is motivated in part by opaque concepts like Justice. Joe does what he does to make money and because he's fucked in the head (lifetime of trauma + abusive father + war veteran). The plot: Joe kills some human traffickers cuz a rich guy politician's daughter was kidnapped by them, then as he's en route to return the daughter, the cops kidnap her again, try to kill Joe, but Joe escapes. Rest of the movie is Joe trying to resolve this situation, part of it's revenge, part of it's if he doesn't he'll get killed.
The fate of a young girl in the grips of a "clandestine pedophile ring" is what drives the plot of You Were Never Really Here. This aspect of the movie is also the wellspring from which the review's Larger Point flows. You might find yourself asking, "WHAT IS THE FUCKING LARGER POINT?!?!!?" Without further adieu... the Larger Point is... You Were Never Really Here is a "paranoid" "conspiracy" that shirks its duty to critique neoliberal capitalism. BOOM!
Let me break down the logic of the Larger Point...
IF there exists a paranoid conspiracy theory known as "Pizzagate", the narrative of which is wealthy elites engage in pedophilic child trafficking
AND the movie You Were Never Really Here features a "clandestine pedophile ring"
THEN You Were Never Really Here is a paranoid conspiracy akin to "Pizzagate", both of which divert attention from the real issues... depressed wages, Flint water crisis, police brutality, etc.
This logic sucks ass. Here's some stuff the movie portrays: 1) an immigrant shop owner whose economic precarity forces him to assist in Joe's violent criminal enterprise, an association that directly results in the shop owner and the shop owner's son being brutally murdered 2) a patriarchal father figure who beats the shit out of his wife 3) a man who is severely alienated from everyone around him. What do economic precarity, patriarchal violence, and alienation have in common? Oh yeah, they're all prominent features of Post-War American Capitalism.
The review concludes by chiding the movie for failing to answer the question, "Where do we go now?" It's fucking obvious! You Were Never Really Here is about choosing life over death, but it makes no bones about how difficult and terrifying life can be. It's about a character who wants to die so bad, but can't quite end it all, cuz there's people who need his help. I'm pissed at this review cuz people wanting to die is a big deal, it's not a trivial concern that ought be secondary to "wages" or whatever else leftists feel comfortable discoursing about.
Here's how the movie ends: Joe and Nina (the girl who was kidnapped) are in a diner. They've escaped the terrifying trap that had ensared them both. Nina goes to the bathroom. What Ramsay does is she shows Joe pull out a gun, put it in his mouth, and pull the trigger. It's graphic and disturbing. Then it's his bloody body in a booth... still, and oozing. The world around him continues as if nothing had happened. Then it cuts back to Joe is alive, Nina returns, she says it's a beautiful day. The review keeps asking "Where do we go now?" like the movie has nothing to say but the movie's answer is clear: We keep living. All the awful, unbearable pain we experience doesn't render us incapable of appreciating beauty or feeling love or caring for others. We keep living. We keep living. We keep living.