(27 May 2017) PHOENIX, RAMSAY TALK SPEEDY TURNAROUND FOR 'YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE'
Joaquin Phoenix and director Lynne Ramsay Saturday (27 MAY 2017) told the Cannes Film Festival about the speed with which its closing film "You Were Never Really Here" was brought into being.
The "We Need to Talk About Kevin" filmmaker returns to the Palme d'Or shortlist with her new tale of corrupt power and vengeance.
Based on a novella by Jonathan Ames, "You Were Never Really Here," follows Phoenix as a tormented war veteran trying to save a teenaged girl – played by Ekaterina Samsov - from a sex trafficking ring.
As his rescue mission goes wrong, a storm of violence is unleashed that may lead to his awakening.
Ramsay adapted the story with Phoenix in mind for the lead role – but had to get ready for shooting in just two months, to slot into a last minute gap in his schedule.
"I was meant to do something else and that didn't happen and Lynne and I had spoken already and I said, 'Do you think you could make it this summer?' which was like two months away," recalled Phoenix. "She said, 'Yeah,' I thought, 'Can you really get a movie together that quickly?' and somehow she did. It came together really quickly"
"I didn't even think I'd finish the script and then I was going into prep and then getting visas to go to New York because I was living in Santorini at the time so it was really a bit crazy," added Ramsay. "But I think some of that spirit was good."
The director arrived at the festival fresh from working on post production, adding Johnny Greenwood's music just last week. Ramsay told the conference she was still editing the final cut.
Critics at the conference gave the festival version a warm reception, congratulating Ramsay on the tale's subversion of thriller norms.
"We wanted to get away from that idea of the male hero," noted Phoenix, " I remember Jim Wilson, the producer would sometimes describe it as 'the impotence of masculinity' so we kind of established this character that seems very capable but in some ways he's not. I think what's maybe interesting about this film for a genre film is that really the girl is ultimately the one who saves herself, so it's not about man coming in and saving the girl."
Ramsay was also asked about her thoughts on the controversy surrounding streaming-only films in this year's competition.
After insisting she had not been following the debate, Ramsay noted, "I believe in movies being projected, going to this technical rehearsal seeing a film on the big screen, that's an experience so obviously as a filmmaker I believe in that, but also Amazon helped to finance my film, Ted Hope, who's the head of Amazon is a film buff, he knows every movie and he's really helped me so – and I think there's some really good stuff coming on TV too, 'Twin Peaks' and 'Top of the Lake' so it's a tough time, but I really hope we always have theatrical releases."
"You Were Never Really Here" is part financed by Amazon Studios – which has a policy of screening its original movies on the big screen before transferring them to its streaming service.
Ramsay has won four awards at the festival in previous years, for her short films "Small Deaths" and "Gasman" and her English/Spanish language tale "Morvern Callar."
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" was launched in Cannes, where it screened in competition in 2011.
The winner of the Palme d'Or is announced on Sunday 28 May.
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