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Review of Joaquin Phoenix in I'm Still Here 2010-09-10 07:30:00

I'm Still Here: My Least Favorite Joaquin Phoenix Movie

If you're unfamiliar with the saga that has been Joaquin Phoenix's career for the past two years, let me refresh your memory. In October 2008, he abruptly announced that he was retiring from acting without giving much explanation. A few months later, he revealed that his brother-in-law, Casey Affleck, was directing a documentary chronicling his career change from actor to rapper. The bizarre news left many of us scratching our heads, and the fruit of Affleck and Phoenix's "collaboration" is equally confounding.

I'm Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix takes us through Phoenix's changes, both physical and emotional. He starts off as the clean-cut, handsome actor whose career is just taking off thanks to Oscar-nominated roles in Gladiator and Walk the Line. What we're left with is the haggard, pot-bellied, petulant shell of a man who has lost his way entirely. As I watched Phoenix call prostitutes, ask Diddy for career advice, and pummel a heckler during one of his hip-hop shows, I had to wonder: if this film really isn't a hoax, then why was Casey Affleck filming these hijinks instead of getting help for his friend and family member?

For more of my thoughts on the film, just read on.

To be fair, the film isn't as controversial or offensive as what I had braced myself for. With a little research you'll learn that there is some nudity and definitely some behavior that's reminiscent of Jackass, but the film is more frustrating than it is disturbing. I did enjoy getting a little more information about why Phoenix felt the need to give up acting (he claims he was tired of being a "puppet" and felt like he was playing a role even off camera), but his decision to try music instead still makes little sense. Phoenix takes almost no means to learn about the industry, and then promptly whines and blames everyone around him when his "songs" are met with a negative reaction.


At the beginning of the film, Phoenix says that what you see in the documentary is what "really represents" him, before demanding "don't misunderstand me." Unfortunately, the 100 minutes that follow don't bring much clarity to who Phoenix really is. Is he an egotistic drug addict or simply a lost soul? After Phoenix watches his own disastrous interview with David Letterman, he cries and laments that his life is a joke. As he sits with his bushy beard in his hands, I thought about the career he was leaving behind. That's really the only twist of the film: if I can watch Phoenix vomit for two straight minutes and still hope to see him return to acting, then maybe the joke's on me. But please, Joaquin, even though you can rhyme your name with "spleen," don't freestyle ever again.

wassy988 wassy988 7 years
I wish this wasn't the truth. It is a dark shame that he resorted to this. If it's a joke, it's not funny. If it's a commentary, it's not getting to anyone. It makes me sad. I was one of his biggest fans. Now, I realize he's no more special that all of the others. It is a true talent wasted. Hopefully not wasted, just on hiatus.
nancita nancita 7 years
Wow. How bizarre. I'm kinda curious to see it, but not really. I think your point about the vomiting sort of nailed it.
Angelica Angelica 7 years
I really enjoyed this review and if I had to guess, will likely feel the same way, but I'm still going to see it! He fascinates me.
lauren lauren 7 years
I agree with ampersand, I really love Joaquin Phoenix and think he is a great actor! I hope you are right buzz and he will leave the rapping and get back to acting!
ampersand1 ampersand1 7 years
:ROTFL: I love your review. I love Joaquin Phoenix. He is a brilliant actor. His attention to detail in order to bring his character to life is recognized by all. Many critics think that he should have been nominated for a third Oscar for his roll in Two Lovers. However, this drama that followed after Two Lovers was released may have put many Academy voters off. What a shame. He says that, "... felt like he was playing a role even off camera." I have no idea what that means. Maybe it means he is not comfortable just being himself. Maybe that is why so many actors are on drugs. Who knows. I know that I will continue to watch all of his movies. He is wonderful. This stint here just makes me laugh and love him even more. Thank you for the post. :D
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