When New York artist Miranda (Mireille Enos) – who specialises in invading the privacy of others – finds herself involved with a criminal investigation, events only become stranger as she develops an obsession for one of the accused. As time passes, things get even more peculiar as the protagonist believes she is now the one being watched. This experimental feature by auteur Camille Theron feels just like that: a personal experiment in filmmaking rather than a fully-realised project, which consequently makes for a tremendously boring and shallow viewing experience.
There is nothing wrong with pushing the boundaries of cinema by creating challenging movies – in fact, this is encouraged – but there still needs to be a purpose for the artistic choices made, otherwise the piece can be pointless at worst and pretentious at best, and Never Here manages to be both. While the clear influences from Lynch and von Trier that dominate the aesthetics are successful, to an extent, in creating an underlying atmosphere of uneasiness at points alongside the occasional unsettling imagery, they nevertheless feel misjudged. Whereas those iconic directors utilise surrealist filmmaking in order to convey meaning through emotion, here it is simply style for the sake of being Art.
Spinning cameras, prolonged long shots, in-your-face dissonant tones and jarring line deliveries make up the majority of the feature’s aesthetic, as well as a handful of incredibly obvious reoccurring symbols (a sign above Miranda’s bed, the personalised ringtone of a character, a police sketch) which are so on-the-nose that it is unclear whether they were intended to be a parody of themselves. Even if this was meant as a satire of “High Art” with all the nonsensical leaps in logic, the hyperbolic stylisation and the main character themselves being an exaggeration of the crazed Avant-Garde artist archetype, there is still not enough enjoyment to be found in flat performances and the incomprehensible plot for the picture to justify itself as comedy.
Supposedly intended to be an open-ended crime thriller, Never Here succeeds in that respect by essentially being a strange series of jumbled events wrapped in nonsensical plot. There may be some viewers willing to find meaning in the various puzzles Theron puts on screen, but the rest of us will be far too disinterested to care by the time the credits roll.
Never Here is released in select cinemas on 21st September 2018.
Watch the trailer for Never Here here: