Still courtesy of TIFF.
I’m Still Here
I’m Still Here could be a candid, Cocksucker Blues–styled portrait of post-acting Joaquin Phoenix. And if it is, it’s a marvel that he’s permitting it to be released. But then, as is evident watching the film, chances are he just doesn’t give half a shit what you think about him.
A document of the rocky year-and-a-half Phoenix spent transitioning from Oscar-winning actor to prankster hip-hop artist, Casey Affleck’s too-intimate portrait closely follows the former actor through what may be either an existential crisis or a full-blown nervous breakdown. We see Phoenix snorting blow, ambling through terrible hip-hop verses, mumbling lecherously as he orders two sex workers off the internet, and famously fucking around on Letterman.
If I’m Still Here is the end product of Joaquin Phoenix’s elaborate Andy Kaufmanesque meta-hoax (and a few red flags raised in the end credits signal that this is the case), it’s a magnificently perpetrated hoax. Considering the film, and indeed Phoenix himself, as a meta-fictional scapegoat for all manner of Hollywood castigating—from chilly Letterman interviews to Oscar-night parodies and smarmy take-downs courtesy of the yapping heads on YouTube—seems the more inviting reading. It’s important to remember that when he still made movies, Phoenix was prone to turning in arresting, chameleon-like performances. His role as “Joaquin Phoenix” may yet prove his most accomplished to date.
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