Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Is Already Being Hailed As A Masterpiece

02 September 2019
Joker, Joaquin Phoenix, DC Comics, Villains
Image: Universal

It'll put a smile on your face, and fear in your heart

Joaquin Phoenix, noted for his expert portrayal of deeply broken figures, has proven that he has what it takes to play the iconic Joker, following the late Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto.

After months of leaked set photos, reports of extras having to relieve themselves on set, and Twitter teases, we finally received our first trailer of Phoenix’s portrayal in July of this year:

Our first glimpse of the film, which was pinned as an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale,” follows Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) as the world grinds him ever further down towards complete mental collapse.

We also get brief glimpses of Shea Whigham’s stern-faced police officer, Zazie Beetz as Sophie, Arthur’s love interest, and a great deal of clown make-up.

Other than that, the movie feels like a pretty cut and dry origin story, albeit one with some good-looking set pieces and some truly chilling acting courtesy of Phoenix.

Such is the fear instilled by Phoenix's portrayal, fans were speculating that the movie wouldn't simply get an MA15+ classification, but something much stronger. Todd Phillips has confirmed the rumours, taking to social media to alert audiences that the film will indeed be R-rated.

In a behind-the-scenes photo posted online, IndieWire points out that the information is released in the comment section after a fan asked about the film's MPAA rating. "It will be Rated R," replied Phillips. "I've been asked this a lot. Just assumed people knew."

As for the movie's story, it's worth noting that one of its stars, Zazie Beetz, told MTV News earlier this year that the movie's script was constantly being rewritten on set day-of:

“The script was great. We rewrote the whole thing while we were shooting it,” Beetz said. “Literally, we would go into Todd’s trailer and write the scene for the night and then do it. During hair and makeup we’d memorise those lines and then do them and then we’d reshoot that three weeks later.”

"I used to think my life was a tragedy," Phoenix's Joker says in the trailer. "But now I realise: It's a comedy."

The Joker was the very first villain in the very first Batman comic, printed back in 1940, and to this date has always been the biggest thorn in the side of the Caped Crusader.

However, despite the fact that The Joker has a ton of different backstories throughout the 70 years of comics that have been written including him, the character has never received a definitive origin story in film other than the one briefly painted in The Dark Knight.

It’s clear that Todd Phillips’ Joker will provide a whole new origin story to one of the most beloved (and feared) villains of cinema history. The R-rated flick will provide a new take on the Clown Prince of Crime, and is said to be inspired by Scorsese and the hard-edged urban cinema of the 1970s.

In an interview with Empire, Phillips explained that this film is unique in its story. Unlike other comic book adaptations, this film doesn’t concern itself with details cemented in print. As Phillips says, “We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about. We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”

Well, that clears things up.

Arthur Fleck is portrayed as vulnerable, damaged, and leaning towards psychopathic tendencies that make him seamlessly transition into the criminal who strikes out at Gotham City. As Phillips said in the interview, casting for the lead role was simple as he said it would always have to be Phoenix. “I think he’s the greatest actor. We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing. We constantly thought, ‘Wow, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.’”

And thus, it seems liek Phoenix has delivered. Joker premiered over the weekend at the. Venice Film Festival, upon, which it received an 8-minute standing ovation. Particular cheers, according to Variety, were reserved for Phoenix's name when it appeared in the end credits.

Critics have since hailed Joker as one of. the films of the year so far, many giving it perfect scores. GameSpot, in a 10/10 review, called it. "wonderfully fresh, dangerously exciting, undeniably entertaining, and rock-solid in its artistry. It might make you uncomfortable, and it will no doubt stay with you long after the curtains close; great movies often do."

The Guardian were also unflinching in. their praise, awarded ing it five stars and saying "What a gloriously daring and explosive film Joker is. It’s a tale that’s almost as twisted as the man at its centre, bulging with ideas and pitching towards anarchy." IGN elaborated furht.

Naturally, a good bulk of the praise has been directed at Phoenix's performance as the titular hero-turned-villain. Variety called him "astonishing," as did Empire, who continued by saying "his usual intensity is on full display and it’s captivating, even overwhelming in moments. IGN elaborated on this further, saying "Arthur’s uncontrollable laughter looks as though it physically pains him; his body is rail-thin and battered, his misery is etched on his deeply creased face. Phoenix captures all these tiny nuances in Arthur and his interactions with others that reveal so much about this disturbed individual’s inner life."

JOKER is at cinemas on October 4.

Via GQ Australia