I’m Still Here

Is it real? Is it a hoax? Is it any good? ‘I’m Still Here’ follows Joaquin Phoenix in the years that he announced he was quitting acting and starting out a career in hip-hop. Filmed documentary style by his bother-in-law Casey Affleck it shows JP seeming unraveling into the mouth of madness and slowly having less and less grip on reality. Disheveled and making erratic public appearances he rejects his millionaire lifestyle for one of drugs, prostitutes and bad hip-hop, he shows himself up in front of colleagues, on live television and frequently rips apart his assistants, at times he mumbles so much subtitles have to be employed to be able to understand. So what were they trying to achieve with this ‘stunt’? Is it a scathing attack on celebrity culture? Does it turn the mirror on the audience? Does it fuel our desire to see people fail? Well after seeing the film I’m still not sure, it wasn’t really that funny so it can’t be classed in the same category as say Borat/Bruno and if it was a serious piece of acting, it’s commendable as JP had to stay in character for two years and potentially ruin his career, but I still don’t get it. The film seems to inhabit a space between an expletive filled episode of Fawlty Towers and the most cringe worthy reality show you can think off, its car crash TV on a big screen. If everyone was in on the joke (and let’s hope Edward James Olmos was or he is clearly an absolute fruit loop!) then at some point wouldn’t someone have pointed out that it just wasn’t that good a joke? (And it clearly was as Affleck took a break from filming to make ‘The Killer Inside Me’ so he’d be able to finish funding the film) or maybe I’m just missing the point, as the film alludes to, that we are just so used to seeing celebrities rise up only to come spiraling back down that we find a very public breakdown not shocking anymore. The question must be asked would it have been more shocking had it been real. But then if it was why in gods name was his brother filming it and not starting an intervention? I understand the fickleness of human nature all wanting a piece of JP and wanting to see how this played out but his family? Whatever it means and whatever the film is trying to say I can’t help but wonder if there was another way to do it, one which didn’t have to go to the lengths this film did or maybe there wasn’t and in the end that’s the point.

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