I'm Still Here
Grade: B +
Director: Casey Affleck
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
The question of whether the meltdown of Joaquin Phoenix, recounted in the film I’m Not Here, is real or an elaborate hoax is at once both inconsequential and crucial to accurately assessing the picture’s merits.
For the record, I have disbelieved Phoenix’s announced withdrawal from acting and decision to launch a career as a hip-hop artist ever since his incoherent, disheveled appearance on Late Night with David Letterman back in February of 2009 to promote the film Two Lovers. While the actor’s tells from that interview are too numerous and nuanced to elucidate here, my skepticism was only heightened after viewing I’m Not Here.
Maybe the tipping point was the scene when
Critics are divided on both
In reality, this debate over I’m Still Here’s truthiness is both a red herring and part of the film’s reason for being.
The point of I’m Still Here is not whether Joaquin Phoenix is still all there. Instead, the salient issue is the very real public reaction to his purported collapse. The film opens with a montage of accolades
Over the ensuing months, Affleck’s roving handheld camera – which, curiously, manages to shoot many supposedly verite conversations from multiple POVs – captures the actor’s delusionary descent. In between his pursuant of Diddy and efforts to book rap performances at clubs from Miami to Vegas, Phoenix rants like a lunatic, snorts cocaine, cavorts with call girls, and generally abuses his two man-servants/hangers-on (at least when they aren’t clipping his back hair). Principal among them is Antony “Anton” Langdon, former guitarist of the British rock band Spacehog, who spends most of the film alternately prancing around naked, allegedly selling
While particularly repulsive, that latter scene is, strangely, the film’s most symbolic moment. I’m Still Here represents
Instead, we get