Friday, August 03, 2018

Jonathan Ames: You Were Never Really Here

I had an opportunity to see Lynne Ramsay's latest film You Were Never Really Here on big screen, and though it's shot entirely digitally, it worked at times with great verve and grim beauty. Joaquin Phoenix was very good in the lead as an emotionally wounded man, called Joe, who rescues kidnapped girls who are sold as sex slaves. Something in the ending troubled me, it felt like not everything was resolved successfully, can't really say what it was. 

Same goes for Jonathan Ames's tight novella that works as a basis for the film. The endings are different, Ramsay's is more ambivalent, while with Ames it's clear Joe is going to go on with his mission. Yet if felt a bit like a letdown. Maybe it had to do with the fact that plot-wise the book is not very original. 

There are still lots of things to like in the book: the sparse, even minimalist prose and narration, the writer's resolution not to give any easy psychological explanations or even background, save for some brief moments. Ames clearly knew what he set out to do, even though the ending was somewhat anticlimactic. And man, do I like the fact that the paperback edition I bought had only 97 pages in it! This reminded me of James Sallis's Drive that's only slightly longer. 

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