you were never really here
by admin in

You Were Never Really Here Explained

You Were Never Really Here is a 2018 American psychological thriller written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. The movie follows Joe, an ex-soldier turned vigilante who is hired to rescue a young girl from a child prostitution ring. The movie has received critical acclaim and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

This article will provide an in-depth analysis of You Were Never Really Here, examining the characters and their symbolic representation of trauma. The psychological portrayal of the protagonist will be explored, and reflections on the movie’s meaning will be discussed. Through this analysis, the movie’s themes and implications will be further understood.

Overview of the Story

The plot of ‘You Were Never Really Here’ follows the story of a man’s journey to rescue a young girl from a dangerous situation. The film follows Joe, a veteran-turned-hitman, as he navigates the dark, violent underworld of a corrupt system. Through Joe’s perspective, the film transports the audience into a world of gritty realism that is fraught with danger and despair. Joe’s mission is complicated by his own inner struggles, and the film uses a variety of dark themes to explore the depths of his psychological trauma. As Joe’s mission progresses, the audience is drawn into his inner world, where they are confronted with a complex and powerful narrative of loss, redemption, and survival. Despite its bleak atmosphere and unpredictable story, the film offers a glimmer of hope in the form of a powerful and moving finale.

Analysis of the Characters

Examining the characters of ‘You Were Never Really Here’ reveals a complex yet layered exploration of trauma, violence, and redemption. Joe, the main protagonist, is a highly traumatized veteran who has adopted violent coping mechanisms to cope with his PTSD symptoms. This is evidenced by his brutal methods of dispatching criminals and his inability to express emotions or engage in meaningful relationships. His recurring nightmares, flashbacks, and outbursts of anger further attest to the extent of his suffering.

The other characters in the movie are similarly complex. Joe’s mother is a representation of a traumatic past and serves as a reminder of his suffering. The senator, his daughter, and the police officers are all symbols of a corrupt and oppressive system that perpetuates violence. Through their interactions, the film explores the idea that violence breeds violence and that only through redemption can trauma and suffering be healed.

Symbolic Representation of Trauma

Symbolic representation of trauma is a central theme in ‘You Were Never Really Here’, and is explored through various characters and their interactions. The main character, Joe, is a war veteran who is struggling to cope with the trauma he experienced in combat. Joe uses violent methods to deal with other forms of violence, as a means of dealing with his own trauma. This is a form of displacement and is a common coping method for those suffering from PTSD. Joe’s sister-in-law also struggles with trauma, and her symbolic representation of this is through her addiction to drugs. This is a way of numbing her feelings and blocking out the pain of her past. Both characters are trying to find a way to cope with their trauma and ultimately, to find a way to recover from it. The film explores the different ways in which they attempt to cope, and how they are ultimately able to move past their trauma in order to find healing.

Psychological Portrayal of the Protagonist

In ‘You Were Never Really Here’, the psychological portrayal of the protagonist offers an insight into the inner-workings of his mind, as he attempts to cope with the trauma of his past. The film follows Joe, a damaged war veteran and hired gun, who is struggling with the pain of his childhood. His inner turmoil is represented through his violent outbursts, and his struggle to maintain a grip on his mental health. Through the use of flashbacks, viewers are able to understand the source of his pain, and the depths of his mental anguish. Joe’s mental state is further explored through his interactions with Senator Albert Votto and his daughter Nina. Joe’s effort to protect Nina from her abusive father serves as a reflection of his own childhood trauma, and the need to protect his inner child from further suffering. Joe’s mental health is further explored through the use of symbolism, such as the red shoe, which is a representation of his lost innocence, and the recurring dream of his mother’s death, which is a reflection of his guilt and regret. Through these elements, viewers gain an understanding of the protagonist’s psyche, and how his past trauma has shaped his present.

Reflections on the Meaning of the Movie

The film ‘You Were Never Really Here’ invites viewers to reflect on the meaning of the movie, exploring themes of trauma, guilt, regret, and the power of protecting one’s inner child. Through the character of Joe, a traumatized veteran and former FBI agent, the movie offers a unique perspective on redemption and escapism. Joe’s character is a reflection of the internal struggles that many people face, as he is constantly trying to cope with his past while also attempting to protect those around him. Through his journey, he is able to find a sense of peace and acceptance, and eventually learns to accept himself and his past. The movie showcases how redemption and escapism can be intertwined, and how the power of protecting one’s inner child can lead to a better understanding of self and the world around them.


The film You Were Never Really Here presents a complex and thought-provoking story. It brings to the surface the deep-seated trauma experienced by the protagonist, and the ways in which it shapes his life. Through the symbolic representation of trauma and the psychological portrayal of the protagonist, the film explores the power and consequences of violence, as well as its capacity to shape our lives. The film ultimately serves as a reflection on the struggles we face, and reminds us of the need to bring attention to the suffering of those affected by trauma. It is a powerful reminder of the strength of resilience, and a call to action for those who seek to help those in need.

Share Post:

Related Posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply