Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience is a film that feels distant at the surface, but in that sense of distance you already find a greater connection between yourself and its characters is being made in how the two of them feel within this environment. In telling the story of a love triangle set within a world that leaves its characters feeling trapped, Lelio’s film feels disconnected from the world in which it is set in. But that’s only the least of what makes Lelio a filmmaker to look out for in recent memory, let alone for what would become the Chilean director’s first film in the English language. Yet for as much as I’m not exactly convinced that every aspect of Disobedience works, what I cannot deny is how taken in I was by this film’s empathy for the experience of living under a cover – a life of falsehood that one is forced to “obey” for their life.
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I’ve always had a bit of an odd relationship with writer-director Lynne Ramsay. I remember disliking We Need to Talk About Kevin when I last watched it years ago but only recently have I found myself being grabbed by her own work, first with Morvern Callar and now this. This is a work that feels caught within the very feeling of trauma, much like the state of its main character – and builds itself slowly within that pain. To simply say that You Were Never Really Here had defied what I was expecting out of it would undersell the very experience of sitting through it, but from the very outline of such a work I don’t think that I can simply say that I would have expected anything close to what I had received on the spot. You Were Never Really Here is a film that evokes a feeling that is difficult to describe on the spot, but when you think of it – you can’t ever let it go, because we like to tell ourselves that “we were never really there.”
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