Or the above image, if you’re looking for another way to sum up I’m Still Here. It was two years of magnificent trolling in the public eye. I tip my hat to you, Casey Affleck, and especially, Joaquin “J P” Phoenix! The performance of a career, indeed.
Then again, I can’t imagine how I would have reacted if I hadn’t walked into this movie knowing it was a mockumentary. I’d like to think I would have easily been able to pick it as an obvious joke, with SO much absurdity coursing through the film, but so many didn’t, and I have a feeling that there would have been some level of doubt in my mind.
I fell for it. Sure, I expressed some doubts and reservations, but I reviewed it seriously, and even expressed my hope that Joaquin would pull himself together. I was not alone. I’ve read all 30 reviews linked by Metacritic.com, which surveys major critics and publications, and here are the totals I came up with:
Believed it was real (10): Ebert, Gliberman, Neumaier, Stevens, Doerksen, Hartlaub, Rodriguez, Levy, Puig, Orange.
Not sure, open question or cagey (17): Persall, Phillips, Rothkopf, Longworth, Williams, Hartlaub, Turan, Baumgarten, Grady. O’Sullivan, Rea, Robinson, Salisbur, Goodykoontz, Travers.)
It’s a fake (6): Young, Burr, Felperin, Dargis, Edelstein.
Roger Ebert fell for it, and here’s his analysis of what 29 other top critics thought. I’m not sure why he wrote this, but I wonder if he’ll change his mind about the rating he gave it, given this new light he’s seeing the movie in. One thing’s for sure, it’s garnered his interest.
The infamous Letterman interview. There are conflicting reports about whether he was in on the whole thing, or whether he had no clue, as Casey Affleck suggests, but regardless, it is mighty cringeworthy television, and I can’t wait to see what his next appearance [apparently scheduled for September 22nd] will be like!
I watched this with three other people. One loved it, one hated it, and one asked “what was the point of that movie?” I’m not really sure what the point was, apart from Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix wondering what they could get away with, and if they were going to eventually come out with the fact that it was all a joke, what was the point of that final scene? I mean, it’s very hard to form an emotional connection with someone, knowing full well what’s really going on.
I for one found it absolutely captivating, and I’ve found myself reading about it all this morning; a sign that it’ll be one of my favourites of the year.
Oh, and a great piece from the Guardian on Casey Affleck at the Venice Film Festival recently.
Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman [September 22nd]