Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Director: Casey Affleck
Writers: Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, Antony Langdon
To begin with, I am not even sure what to really say about I'm Still Here (2010). Like almost everyone else, I had my suspicions that this was all a performance by Joaquin Phoenix and not a real breakdown. I just wish I had gotten the chance to see the movie before Casey Affleck made the official announcement that Phoenix's breakdown was not real.
Since I didn't see the film until after the announcement, all I can pretty much judge the film by is the performance by Joaquin Phoenix. It is one hell of a performance and in true Andy Kaufman style he really dedicated himself to it. He didn't just play this character in the movie, he played this character in his entire public life for nearly two years. He did this so well that no one really knew if he was having a mental breakdown or not.
What this movie does show is just how dedicated Joaquin Phoenix is to his craft. Which is kind of ironic considering how much he claims to hate acting in the film. Pheonix gave up two years of his professional life to make this movie. Two years that he could have been getting bigger roles with bigger paychecks. I am sure he passed on many opportunities in order to continue making this low budget film that probably will not make him a lot of money. Also, depending on how many people knew it was an act, he probably didn't make himself a lot of friends either. This was a risky movie to make, if things didn't go right it could have totally killed his career.
I did have one problem with the movie though. Because I knew that it was just a giant performance I kept asking myself through-out the movie, "Is that person in on it?" Every time something shocking would happen, or Joaquin would put someone in an awkward position, I couldn't help but wonder whether or not that person knew what was going on or not. This kind of took me out of the story that the film was trying to tell about this "character" having a mental breakdown.
Now, if we were to take this as a real documentary, it is actually really well made. It is also pretty heart-breaking to watch this character completely fall apart in the film. Once you accept the fact that it is a piece of fiction, the film has a way of making you feel for this character as his life completely spirals down the drain. I guess that is a compliment to both Casey Affleck's talent as a documentary film maker and Joaquin Phoenix's talent as an actor.
Overall I liked the movie, I think it was well made. I think it took a lot of balls on the parts of Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, and anyone else involved to actually make the movie. They very easily could have angered a lot of people but they managed to keep the charade going for the entire shoot of the movie without burning any bridges behind them. I do have one big and very important question about the film though: Did Joaquin wash his hair at all during the time they were filming?