There is an eerie hush, creating tension and fear, while you watch Camille Thoman's Never Here. The directors first feature film is an excellent example of mood setting and mystery, with a superb performance from the always game Mirelle Enos, and the final performance of legendary actor Sam Shepard's long career. Never Here is a thriller about an abstract artist pushing her art to the edge, when she follows a man who assaulted a woman on the street, only she never saw the actual assault.   

Enos stars as Miranda Fall, an artist who deals in the study of humanity. Her recent project, involved her finding a lost cell phone and turning the person who the phone belonged to into the subject of her artistic expression. Her poking and prodding into the mans life is something that he never asked for, but it becomes a successful gallery exhibit, and her manager/lover Paul Stark (Sam Shepard) knows her way of expression is highly unique. That is, until her exploration begins to go too far. When Paul witnesses a woman being assaulted outside his window, he doesn’t report the attack, so Miranda sees it as an opportunity to inject herself into the situation, sending her down a strange path, turning the mystery of the assailant into her new project. And putting her own life at risk.

There are three factors that make an independent film such as Never Here succeed: 1) Mireille Enos is one of the more underrated and spectacular actors today. There is not a single scene without her and the amount of weight she carries, as someone who begins to fear for her well being, questions if the world she inhabits is in her head, and confidently puts herself in danger. 2) Sam Shepard was and is always someone whose very presence changes a film, and his work here is a fitting example of that skill. His role may be minimal, but his scenes with Enos are the stuff of legends. There is a theatre-like staging, where the adults are having an affair, but the sex never gets in the way of their in depth conversations. And 3) Thoman is an impressive director. Her work is highly skilled, channeling the tension building of a Hitchcock film and the pacing of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. Her career is going to be one fans will want to pay attention to as it progresses.

Later on, Miranda will become even further intertwined with the assault that took place. The detective on the case is Andy (Vincent Piazza), a former lover and model of her work. It is revealed that the woman that was assaulted a journalist for a magazine that had interviewed Miranda earlier that day. Now she becomes involved with another man, feels deep regret for the woman assaulted, and believes she has spotted the criminal at large (played by Goran Visnjic). Is Miranda still treating this like another one of her enlightening art projects? Is she getting her self into more trouble? There is much mystery to Never Here.

Most audiences can watch a mystery any day of the week on Netflix, but there is much more to grasp onto in Never Here. The weaknesses come from the films drawn out pace, but the complexities in the script from Camille Thoman successfully elevates the material to a more mature and adult style of narrative. The settings and framing of scenes by Sebastian Wintero uses things such as neon lights, sterile art galleries, and isolated streets of New York to create a dream sequence, much like David Fincher's The Game. When you combine all of that with veteran performers like Enos and Shepard, you are able to get a completely realized piece of work. Never Here is a film that puts its finger on the pulse of what it means to be an artist, and sometimes that can be a very dangerous thing.


Written by: Leo Brady

Never Here