A film by Casey Affleck, starring Joaquin Phoenix
Watching this much mulled over film does little to put the mind at ease, and rather than solving the debates of it's legitimacy that have been bouncing around for two years (ever since Joaquin handed in his actor's notice), instead it fires them up and with a new gusto they are being argued over pasta and wine in the restaurants of the Venice Lido. Nobody can say for sure whether this was a documentary or a 'mockumentary', save for Affleck and Phoenix themselves, and others involved in the making of the film. Despite some obviously staged scenes, the film is remarkably convincing.
I'm Still Here: The Hoax
Hats off to Phoenix. The younger, more handsome Affleck brother's film is stage to some of the most convincing, moving and dedicated method acting I have ever seen, and seriously questions the nature of 'Hollywood' mentality and the destructive effect it can have on the lives of those it engulfs.
I'm Still Here: The Documentary
If we consider that this may very well be an intimate portrayal of a man's rejection of his career and a retreat into another life, which eventually leads to some sort of breakdown, it is impossible to deny that it is a highly valuable piece of cinema. And again, my hat stays in the air for the subject of the film. The bravery (or stupidity? It's a fine line) Phoenix showed in allowing himself to be portrayed in compromising and vulnerable situations is second to none. Primarily, the film invokes sympathy for Joaquin as we see his most profound moments of fragility.
Whether we are to take this film as ‘reality’ or as an elaborate ruse, it makes for enthralling, moving and incredibly uncomfortable watching. It also sparks a great debate, frequently overheard after screenings, as to the nature of acting in general. Even if this film is a hoax, the Joaquin Phoenix that Phoenix chose to present to the world was a real person engaging in real activities; it is impossible to disconnect the actor from the role he plays, as this role is essentially himself. Ultimately, the film asks us what is acting- or perhaps closer to the bone, can we really tell who is or isn’t living their life playing a role?
Turns out http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/movies/17affleck.html?_r=3&src=twt&twt=nytimes