A career filled with unconventional choices has led the Oscar nominee to a banner period working with Lynne Ramsay, Gus Van Sant and Jacques Audiard
For an actor who has cultivated an image of relative Hollywood hermitude, Joaquin Phoenix has been awfully visible lately, fidgeting uncomfortably in a spotlight that nonetheless keeps landing on him. This week, his starring role in Gus van Sants Dont Worry, He Wont Get Far On Foot hits cinemas in the US and depending on where you are in the world, its his third major release of 2018 so far.
In the UK, the March cinema schedule gave us a particularly disconcerting Phoenix double-whammy. One week, he was a taciturn, tortured assassin exacting grievous violence on toxic men in Lynne Ramsays brutal stunner You Were Never Really Here. The next, he was literally Jesus Christ still taciturn, definitely still tortured, but ostensibly a more benevolent presence in Garth Daviss prettily soporific religious drama Mary Magdalene. (Or, as atheistic wags might also call it, You Were Never Really Here.) The performances may have had more in common than they would in the hands of most other actors youve never seen the son of God quite this blearily emo but the ideological whiplash between the projects was still striking. (With Mary Magdalene still mired in Weinstein Company legal quicksand, Americans will find this out when, if ever, it gets released.)
Phoenix isnt done for the year, either: this autumn, well see his starring role in the darkly comic gold rush western The Sisters Brothers, the first English-language film by the esteemed French auteur Jacques Audiard. By any measure, thats a robust quartet of projects, at least in terms of prestige and intent (Mary Magdalene turned out to be a critical and commercial non-event, though it wasnt for want of ambition on the part of anyone involved).
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