We went into this film blind. We didn’t know anything much about it, save the main actor’s name. We figured it might be a bit violent, perhaps grim. That was it. It was kind of refreshing, having seen so many films that were given so much media attention. I also knew the run time, which was fairly short.
Even though I knew Joaquin Phoenix was the star of YWNRH (let’s be honest, that title is long), it took me a while to realise it was actually him. He looks entirely different. It’s good, because as Joe, he is different. In more ways than one.
There were times during this film where I didn’t know if Joe was good, or bad. I didn’t know if I liked him, disliked him, pitied him, or just wanted him to be okay. I still don’t. I’m okay with not knowing.
There were moments during this film that I had to look away. The anticipation and the hurt and the fear in a character’s eyes were too much. There was something going to happen, but we didn’t know what, so I would look away. I was also watching out of the corner of my eye because I couldn’t help but find out exactly what was happening.
YWNRH pulled at my heartstrings. I also experienced a huge spectrum of emotions watching it. I was aghast, stunned, disgusted, disturbed, touched and sad. I wanted to hurt and hug Joe. I wanted to tell him everything would be okay, and to also get him in trouble with the law. I wanted to get to the core of him. I wanted to find out who he is, who is was, who he will be.
Joe doesn’t say much, but he says enough. He doesn’t seem to do much, either. He does his job. He remains calm. He remains calm until he has a flashback to his childhood or to the war. He seems to exist on a boundary between his past and his present. He is somebody and nobody.
I left the film with tears in my eyes and a sense of bewilderment as to what I’d just seen on screen. I still have so many questions about Joe. I have so many questions about his job, his life, his relationships. I have so many questions about the film.
What I can say is that I can’t fault the film. Not one single thing about it. The acting was amazing. The cinematography, the editing, the simplicity and complexity of the story. The score. I’m a fan of Radiohead anyway, but Jonny Greenwood’s score for YWNRH was a great accompaniment without being too obvious.
All I can say is: go see it. Experience every emotion you can imagine in 90 minutes. Then talk to me about it.