Never Here Review

Never Here is a 2017 thriller about disturbing events that lead an artist who photographs strangers to suspect that someone out there is watching her.

There’s a disjointed, ethereal quality in the opening moments of Camille Thoman‘s Never Here, one that seeps in, grabs hold and doesn’t let go all the way through. It’s meant to be unsettling, to lure you into darker corners and search for answers, and while it makes for a curious visual experience that might not always work, is nonetheless a chilling, minor masterpiece of suspense. 

Miranda Fall (Mireille Enos) is a sort of performance artist who, in an early interview, claims her inspiration is chance. Her latest installation focuses on her collection of information about a man whose smart phone she found on the street, turning what’s she learned into a gallery of images and memorabilia that becomes a hit, though not with the man, Arthur Anderton (David Greenspan), who is the subject. Miranda’s mentor and lover is Paul (Sam Shepard), who on the evening of the show, happens to witness an assault of a woman from her second floor bedroom window. Not wanting to give testimony, for serious reasons, he refuses to call police, but she does anyway, pretending she saw the crime. In comes lead detective, Andy (Vincent Piazza), a former lover of Miranda’s, and soon she becomes drawn into the investigation, obsessing over cleared suspect ‘S’ (Goran Visnjic), leading her to swim in deep waters where she should never have gone.

Right away, if you’re any kind of cinephile, you might recognize most of that description from Curtis Hanson‘s excellent The Bedroom Window, a thriller that begins with the same setup, though gender reversed. Much like that film, Never Here draws lineage to Hitchcock, toying with audience expectations, keeping nearly every frame purposefully nebulous. Miranda’s world is very small and within it, all things seem connected, as she sets about with her chance-filled motivation to learn more about S and who he is, believing he’s someone very familiar. She secretly follows him, documenting his daily routines and habits, asking herself trivial questions about him that she layers with great weight. All the while, events around her become distorted, perhaps some of it real, perhaps not, as she sees and experiences things that don’t make sense but continually shake at her sanity.

All of this works as well as it does because of how utterly committed Enos is to Miranda. It’s a striking performance, where she sinks into a kind of madness, dragging us along as she does, slowly beginning to suspect that it is she who actually is being watched. Thoman, herself an artist, and having also wrote the story, keeps it very personal, spiraling it into a harrowing nightmare of a journey that continually presses us to wonder. Shepard, in his final role, is also revelatory, seeming innocuous at first but steadily developing into something far more significant as the story progresses.

There’s a line that Thoman chooses to tread across, blurring art and reality, truth and hallucination, balance and otherwise. It’s ambiguity is dark and aggressive, challenging us at all ends to fill in gaps that might not even be there. It’s an art piece all itself and we are positioned to gaze upon it, to sink into its contours and search for meaning. That meaning is up to us as there are many knots to unravel. For many, this might be too much, as Thoman isn’t interested in delivering convention but rather deeply emotive imagery and experimental storytelling. No matter the result, the experience is undeniably affecting, with a terrific last shot that expresses much about where we’ve been and where it’s going. This is great cinema.

Never Here Review

Movie description: Never Here is a 2017 thriller about disturbing events that lead an artist who photographs strangers to suspect that someone out there is watching her. 

Director(s): Camille Thoman

Actor(s): Mireille Enos, Sam Shepard, Goran Visnjic

Genre: Thriller

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