Self-indulgent? Definitely. Funny? Mostly. Real? It actually doesn’t matter. Joaquin Phoenix did stop acting, he did try rapping (sort of), he did embrace the attractive beard and bloat combination, and he did make that awful appearance on Letterman that was the first sign of his new washed-up persona. I’m Still Here gives us Casey Affleck’s account of all of this from inside Phoenix’s inner circle. It seems as if they’re the only two in the film that are in on the joke, and in a way there’s a truth about the staged scenarios and Phoenix’s faux-breakdown that echoes the documentary aspects of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work.
It’s a shame, though, that, unlike Borat and Bruno, both fellows who largely embarrass real-life bigots, Phoenix and Affleck seem to find it hilarious to be pranking everyone. Whilst entertaining viewing, I’m Still Here is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is and at times seems like the excuse for abusive and juvenile behaviour on Phoenix’s part. Neither he nor Affleck really seem aware of what they’re putting people through – whether it’s the media or Phoenix’s staff, they’re just folks to be played for laughs, unfortunately not quite as many as the boys expect. Still Here, still okay though. Hide