Joker is once again the game-changing character not only of the DC universe but also any movie franchise based on comics. It was 2008 when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was released. Fans and industry professionals expected it to be both a big hit and a flick for movie buffs. In the end, it turned out to be a masterpiece, possibly the greatest picture ever based on comics. Scrap the possibly, it still is the greatest picture featuring a superhero. And its tremendous box office success paved the way for two courses: Nolan became the ultimate blockbuster auteur, and superhero films gained a respect they had seldom had before, if ever. And it wasn’t all about Batman; it was about Joker. 11 years later, we have reached another turning point.
Todd Phillips, the man behind the Hangover trilogy as well as War Dogs and a number of frat movies, directs a dramatic origin story which revolves around Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who struggles to fit into society. Arthur endures constant bullying from youngsters in the streets of Gotham and his clown day job’s co-workers, until one day – when he is also rejected by the man he believes to be his father – his depression turns into violence.
Produced by Martin Scorsese and co-starring Robert de Niro as a cynical TV host, Joker capitalises on a lack of background story for the DC villain, which allows Phillips and co-screenwriter Scott Silver to create something unique. The true reason this film should be watched and celebrated, though, is Phoenix’s performance. The slow deterioration of Arthur’s soul and the consequent rise of the Joker, gradually spread over two hours of brilliant cinema, is a work of delirious genius. It’s in the detailed recounting of this decline, Arthur’s suffering and his attempts to stay afloat, that the film thrives, and its truly dramatic tone – if followed by commercial success – will spark a new era of comics-based pictures.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Joker is released nationwide on 4th October 2019.
Read more reviews from our Venice Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Venice Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Joker here: