Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is an unlucky clown with mental problems who lives with his ill mother (Frances Conroy), a woman who worked for the millionaire Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen). Arthur loses his job, the city is full of conflicts, his mother’s health deteriorates… In this context, Fleck kills three young people on Wall Street who thought that, with his uncontrolled laughter, he was making fun of them. It is the beginning of a criminal career fueled by madness and social discontent.
Todd Phillips, the author of the comic hangovers by Bradley Cooper and company, directed and wrote this film about the Joker, the most well-known villain (or anti-villain) of Batman comic book stories. The film, the dark genesis of the comic book character, is a psychological drama centered on an alienated person, an alienated person with no luck who ends up turning crime into catharsis, his social frustration into nihilism.
The inclusion in the cast of Robert de Niro is not accidental, since the film clearly refers to the fusion, starting from the classic inversion of terror of the sympathetic figure of the clown, between the tragic and urban decadence of “Taxi Driver” and the ego-narcissism from “The King Of Comedy,” both directed by Martin Scorsese. To this we add, manifested by the author himself, influences from “The Man Who Laughs” by Victor Hugo via Paul Leni, and the extension of Heath Ledger’s brilliant creation in “The Dark Knight” as a sociopathic insane Joker, capable of provoking chaos wherever it goes.
Joaquin Phoenix, in a role of physical and psychic brilliance, stands out in transmitting the traumas and growing disorders of the protagonist (called Joker in some countries), forcing a smile in front of the mirror, dancing to the music of Gary Glitter or against the background of “White Room ”by Cream in a collective purge of emotions.
The film, gloomy, sorrowful, with traits of black humor, is quite unconcerned with characters adjacent to the central character, using them as a functional accentuation of his imbalance and as a link with the tragic birth of the hero Batman. It does so in an intense way in its atmosphere, sickly, with possible ambiguities in facts and reflections in a nightmarish setting. A pity that the underline diminishes its effectiveness, that the origin of the disturbance is not original, and that the social observation, in part triggering the actions of citizen anarchy, is somewhat childish.
However, a film of merit.
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