Feature

I’m Still Here

Casey Affleck's documentary—­or mockumentary?—chronicles Joaquin Phoenix’s foray into rap.

Directed by Casey Affleck(R)

***

In I’m Still Here, Joaquin Phoenix either gives the “performance of a lifetime” or commits career suicide, said Joshua Rothkopf in Time Out New York. In October 2008, the 33-year-old actor announced he would retire to pursue a career as a rapper. In this “terrifying, near-brilliant exposé,” Phoenix’s brother-in-law, actor Casey Affleck, captures the “public and private unraveling” of the once-respected actor. It’s uncomfortable and, at times, agonizing to watch, said Karina Longworth in The Village Voice. Phoenix berates his assistants, snorts coke, parties with prostitutes, and vomits—a lot. If that weren’t bad enough, audiences must relive his infamous David Letterman interview. The end credits suggest that Phoenix’s seeming breakdown is just a sick joke, but if so, it’s hard to determine “why this stunt existed at all.” Hoax or not, I’m Still Here commands an “immersive, unnerving fascination,” said Tasha Robinson in the A.V. Club. If it’s real, Affleck has expertly captured Phoenix’s “shallow and damaged” soul. If we’ve been duped, the film’s “greatest value is in pointing out the media’s gullibility”—and our own.

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