Lynne Ramsay’s features centre on characters dealing with trauma by losing themselves in sensations, not language. This is the seventh feature in our Special Issue on You Were Never Really Here.
In each of her four features, Lynne Ramsay focuses on a powerless witness to events so traumatic that they can never be repaired or reversed. In her feature debut Ratcatcher, a young boy living in a Glasgow housing project during The Troubles accidentally drowns a child he is playing with. Morvern Callar, Ramsay’s sophomore film, opens in a gloomy apartment, completely silent but for the hypnotic, lulling buzz of blinking Christmas lights, on the titular character caressing the body of her dead boyfriend. In We Need To Talk About Kevin, Tilda Swinton’s Eva Khatchadourian becomes numb after her sociopathic son murders his father, his sister, and a dozen schoolmates. And in Ramsay’s most recent film You Were Never Really Here, flashbacks reveal that contract killer Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is traumatised both from witnessing his father beat his mother as a child and from his experiences in the army and law enforcement.
A lot can be gleaned about a director’s outlook by looking at their films in comparison to each other. We’ve explored Joachim Trier’s entire filmography so far; took a side by side look at grief in Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper and Summer Hours; revisited two of Terence Davies’ previous features in our Special Issue on A Quiet Passion; and explored how Agnès Varda’s body of work led up to Faces Places.