No Surprise: Joaquin Phoenix Was Still Here All Along
09.17.10 by Ryan
Director Casey Affleck finally admitted what many have suspected: That the seeming meltdown of actor Joaquin Phoenix depicted in Affleck's I'm Still Here was not a documentary after all.
"It's a terrific performance, it's the performance of his career," Affleck told The New York Times. Affleck admitted that the entire movie was a set-up, even if it wasn't intended to be a prank. "I never intended to trick anybody," said Affleck. "The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind."
It didn't seem to enter the minds of many who watched it, either, as most thought the movie was a true-to-life documentary about an actor's downward spiral. "The reviews were so angry," admitted Affleck.
Where that leaves I'm Still Here in terms of classification is arguable, though Affleck says his intentions in making the movie were to "create a space" where "you believe what's happening is real."
Audiences got their first peek at Phoenix's performance during an infamous, spaced-out appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, where, according to Affleck, David Letterman was not in on the joke. However, a separate New York Times piece reports that Late Nite writer Bill Scheft admitted last year that "Dave knew about it and Dave loved it because he could play along."
Whether or not Letterman was among those playing along with Phoenix, it's the performance that Affleck says will endure.
[Phoenix's] performance is compelling, always watchable, manages to be repulsive and charming, believable in all emotions, completely committed, incredibly brave. How difficult to resist the cheap joke, the wink, the nudge. He has the tools for this. He has the goods in spades.
Perhaps with the truth out there, audiences will be inclined to watch I'm Still Here when it opens in a slightly wider release on September 24. The box office receipts from it's September 10 limited release have yet to crack $1 million.