Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is unlike any other comic-book movie in existence. The film, despite its genre, has received the amount of awards season buzz that usually surrounds the so-called prestige movies. And that is even before the film has hit theaters.
It also won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which is the event’s top award. The last two recipients of the award are Roma and The Shape of Water. Both films did exceptionally well at the Oscars, with the latter winning the Best Picture trophy.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker is penned by Phillips himself and Scott Silver. It tells the origin story of DC Comics character Joker. It is, however, a total reinvention and does not follow any particular comic book storyline, though it does take inspiration from Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.
Joker is radically different from other comic-book movies. For one, it is made on a budget (55 million dollars) that is shoestring by the genre standards. It also differs from other entries in the genre in that it is more of an intimate character study than a full-blown superhero film dominated by special effects.
The character is basically a downtrodden and mentally ill average Joe who becomes a criminal mastermind we know as the Joker. The film explores, psychologically, a man who is criminally insane.
The film’s synopsis reads, “Director Todd Phillips “Joker” centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.”
Joker releases on October 2.