In 2008, Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix walked away from acting to pursue a rap career, an inexplicably bizarre detour captured in gritty detail in this “documentary” directed by Phoenix’s brother-in-law, Casey Affleck. Some speculated Phoenix’s behavior was part of a well-orchestrated hoax — or, even worse, a mental breakdown. But some of the film’s graphic footage suggests it could have been a little of both.
Rating:7 out of 10
I’ve been anticipating seeing this and was really excited when I found out it came out on Netflix instant. It would appear that Joaquin Phoenix completely lost himself in this role as ‘himself.’ Even though I went into watching this I knew it was a faux documentary (Affleck recently confirmed this), I was still debating if it was real or not because of Phoenix. As someone who has had problems with severe anxiety and depression, I really felt that Phoenix was actually experiencing all of these issues. The chain-smoking, babbling and going off on some of his closest friends are good examples.
“I’m Still Here” adequately captures the experiences and emotions of a person when they decide to make a big change in their life. It can be very confusing and frustrating making huge transitions for more emotionally fragile people. If the point of this faux documentary was to show how hard it is for celebrities to retire from the spotlight, it didn’t capture it quite well. Yes, there were a lot of celebrity cameos but most of them were in the film for, I kid you not, seconds. As I said, the film just captured the emotional distress of Phoenix, not his struggle to get away from the spotlight.
The film was also a bit humorous at parts, in a dark way. The things Phoenix did and was done to him by others (if you see it or have seen it, you’ll know) were quite shocking. If you have a twisted sense of humor like me, you’ll thoroughly enjoy it.