A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.


Lynne Ramsay


Lynne Ramsay (screenplay by), Jonathan Ames (based on the book by)
1,840 ( 42)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 24 wins & 73 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Joaquin Phoenix ... Joe
Dante Pereira-Olson ... Young Joe
Larry Canady Larry Canady ... Cincinatti Cab Driver
Vinicius Damasceno ... Moises
Neo Randall Neo Randall ... Moises's Friend
Judith Roberts ... Joe's Mother
Frank Pando ... Angel
John Doman ... John McCleary
Edward Latham Edward Latham ... Drug Dealer
Alex Manette ... Senator Albert Votto
Claire Hsu ... Staring Girl
Denis Ozer Denis Ozer ... Afghan Boy
Tia Sofia Begh Tia Sofia Begh ... Afghan Girl
Lucy Lan Luo Lucy Lan Luo ... Dead Girl
Annie Mac-Yang Annie Mac-Yang ... Dead Girl


Balancing between feverish dreamlike hallucinations of a tormented past and a grim disoriented reality, the grizzled Joe--a traumatised Gulf War veteran and now an unflinching hired gun who lives with his frail elderly mother--has just finished yet another successful job. With an infernal reputation of being a brutal man of results, the specialised in recovering missing teens enforcer will embark on a blood-drenched rescue mission, when Nina, the innocent 13-year-old daughter of an ambitious New York senator, never returns home. But amidst half-baked leads and a desperate desire to shake off his shoulders the heavy burden of a personal hell, Joe's frenzied plummet into the depths of Tartarus is inevitable, and every step Joe takes to flee the pain, brings him closer to the horrors of insanity. In the end, what is real, and what is a dream? Can there be a new chapter in Joe's life when he keeps running around in circles? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Bring the hammer.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

R for strong violence, disturbing and grisly images, language, and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This film is an adaptation of American author Jonathan Ames' 2013 novella of the same name. See more »


In the mansion, Joe sits on the bed, slides to the floor, and rips his shirt off. Right after that he is sitting on the bed again. See more »


Joe: Do you know what paradise is? It's a lie, a fantasy we create about people and places as we'd like them to be.
See more »


Features The Naked Kiss (1964) See more »


I've Never Been to Me
Words and Music by Ken Hirsch (as Kenneth Hirsch), Ronald Miller
Performed by Charlene
Published by Jobete Music Co. Inc. / EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Motown Record Company
Under licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd
See more »

User Reviews

Story is about the life of two abused and tortured souls
20 February 2019 | by HorrorFlickFanaticSee all my reviews

The story is about the life of two abused and tortured souls revealed from opposite ages and genders. Both Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) and Ekaterina Samsonov character have been victimized by society. Joe bares the physical scars by his abusive father who wanted him to become a straight male by beating his homosexual preference out of him. Then there is Ekaterina who has been sold as an underage sex slave to the wealthy and powerful sexual deviants such as top politicians. Joe is still trapped by the mental cell his father has left him with. He takes on "manly" jobs such as a hired gun to support himself and his elderly Alzheimer afflicted mother who is completely unaware of what he does for a living.

Joe is eventually hired by a wealthy man to find his kidnapped daughter and bring her back. But a twist in the film reveals he wasn't aware of the total circumstances behind her kidnapping. He finds himself being hunted.

Joaquin Phoenix does what he always does best. He becomes the character to the point it no longer feels like we are watching an actor play a role in a film. He really wraps himself up in the character and provides a fabulous performance. He does the subtle nuances of a man in strong conflict with his himself and the image his father had tried to project on him. The film does have a slow pace, but that is intentional. Phoenix takes his time to develop the character very well on screen. This is his hallmark and what makes his film so great. He puts in the hard work to make us understand Joe. Unfortunately, many of today's instant gratification generation don't have the patience to experience real storytelling. I wish more actors took this art form to the heights that Joaquin Phoenix does. He is truly one of the best actors in Hollywood.

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UK | France | USA



Release Date:

6 April 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

You Were Never Really Here See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$132,829, 8 April 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color | Black and White (surveillance footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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