The acclaimed film-maker talks about the movie she walked out on, her ‘Shirley Valentine’ moment and working with Joaquin Phoenix on her new thriller, You Were Never Really Here
I’m not sure what I think film directors look like (Do they wear visors? Carry a loudhailer?), but I am very sure Lynne Ramsay doesn’t look like one. In her big beanie hat and jumper, her jeans and boots, Ramsay is a dead ringer for an art student bunking off lectures. Before she sees me, I spot her smoking a roll-up at a table outside the west London cafe where we’re meeting. She’s making notes in an exercise book; she looks perfectly happy.
Art is where Ramsay started. Born into a working-class family in Glasgow, she used to paint and studied photography at Edinburgh’s Napier College before graduating in cinematography and directing from the National Film and Television School. She still sometimes wields a camera during a film shoot, gets the shots she wants. And all her movies walk the line between art, film and entertainment. They’re immensely watchable, gripping studies of damaged people; but there’s also an aesthetic, often an intimate focus, a mood painted by the pictures. Each film is a distinct, original work. They remain in your mind for a long time.