Opening 11 Aug 2011
Twice Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix casually announces retirement from acting to concentrate on his new rap career. His seemingly impulsive comment to a red-carpet reporter after participating in a charity event is filmed by his brother-in-law Casey Affleck. Affleck records Phoenix describing his acting career as a “self-imposed prison” where he is “just a f*ing puppet” with no creative input and documents the self-destructive drug, sex and rap roll that Phoenix plays.
Phoenix is compelling in his portrayal of big celebrity gone bonkers, but each step towards meltdown is so well staged that real life feels more like reel acting. With so many reality TV shows these days that cross over into daily lives of so-called stars, Phoenix The Movie is genius: a “reality” film of his behind-the-scenes agony that includes live rap performances, brawls and a terrific mad-man appearance on David Letterman. Bizarre live appearances by Phoenix covered by tabloid press provided just enough information to keep tongues wagging about the demise of Phoenix as an actor. So how much of the real Joaquin Phoenix is revealed? Probably only his biggest fans will be interested enough to watch this docufiction with so much vulgarity. And laugh. (Mary Nyiri)