I'm Still Here
- Director:Casey Affleck
- Cast:Joaquin Phoenix
- Release Date:September 16, 2010
- Running time:107 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.50
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Alternately funny and poignant, this riveting docu-drama works best as a self-reflective piece that examines notions of celebrity and artistry.
For decades, tortured actors have prowled the screen with equal parts brilliance and insanity. Brooding thespian Joaquin Phoenix is as talented and conflicted as they come, so it was a sad day when he said goodbye to acting and turned to music. Or did he? That is the question which haunts I'm Still Here, a docu-drama which chronicles Phoenix's abrupt career change, and had many wondering if it's real or a hoax. But to hell with motives, it is what's on screen that counts, and whether career destroyer or artistic triumph, I'm Still Here works as a self reflection of Phoenix's celebrity, artistry, and inability to love himself.
It begins with Phoenix spouting his hatred for the acting profession. Music is the way to artistic freedom, and it's through hip hop where he has found liberty. The problem is the deluded Phoenix is terrible. A memorable scene shared with P. Diddy (or Sean Combs, or....whatever) features the hip hop czar confronting Phoenix with the question: is this rap thing a joke? Maybe it is, but there is no denying the sincerity put towards this film as an artistic endeavour, Phoenix jumping headfirst into some sort of docu-method performance, metamorphosing into a bearded, bloated mess of a man.
Capturing the train wreck is director Casey Affleck, who does a great job crafting Phoenix's volatile mood swings and egocentricities into a funny and poignant film about a man constantly questioning his self worth. The tragedy is the position in which Phoenix finds himself. Acting, at which he is brilliant, represents death. Music, at which he is appalling, is the only thing which gives him life.
Real or not, that Joaquin Phoenix survived it all is a miracle. If suffering is strength, then consider Phoenix stronger, wiser, and hopefully cleansed of whatever demons haunted his soul.