I was tempted to leave it at that, but I have a few more thoughts. I really like Joaquin Phoenix as an actor, and he has a fun name to say. I was intrigued when I heard about this project but I only managed to get around to seeing it recently. I had heard all the rumours about it being a hoax because it seemed so outlandish but after it was released I hadn’t heard much about it so I went in not really knowing what to expect.
Perhaps I’m just sceptical but it was so out there that early on I figured it had to be a hoax; otherwise it would have been a tacky attempt to cash in on someone’s mental breakdown. After viewing it I read up about it online and found out that last year Casey Affleck came out and confirmed that it was false.
I admire what they were doing because it is easy to deceive people, as a lot are eager to believe that ‘reality’ shows like The Hills etc are an accurate representation of the participants’ real lives. But they’re heavily edited and loosely scripted, and the truth becomes blurred. It also reminds me of the ‘found footage’ films like The Fourth Kind (awful) and Apollo 18 (haven’t seen yet).
It makes me think about when you meet someone new, in theory you could tell them anything (within reason) and they’d more than likely believe you because (unless you’re extremely cynical and mistrustful) we take it for granted that people will be honest with us. It’s a basic assumption of the social contract (a violation of which is played for laughs in The Invention of Lying). I think we’re generally eager to believe celebrities and hold them to a higher moral standard because there’s so much scrutiny on them.
However, I wonder in what regard Joaquin Phoenix would be held if Casey Affleck hadn’t revealed they were playing a trick. As presented, I didn’t feel much sympathy for the character Joaquin Phoenix played. I also wonder whether the excuse of a hoax could hide other breakdowns. Would people believe Charlie Sheen if he came out and said that what happened last year was an emphatic statement about how perceptions and opinions are filtered and influenced through social media?
As a film itself, I’m Still Here is fairly good. I wonder how many people were in on it. There were some nice flourishes from the director, and say what you want about the man but Joaquin Phoenix was dedicated to the role; putting on the weight, growing the beard and really risking his professional reputation. However it did drag in places, and for all the effort and energy they all put in to the charade I have to wonder whether it was really worth it.