Lonely, depressed, alone, miserable, haunted…”life is a comedy.” Obviously a tour de force performance from Joaquin Phoenix — instant Best Actor status. The film is basically saying that the cruel world we live in creates the villains that it deserves. And you can’t avoid thinking of the perpetrators of recent mass shootings, and about mental illness and how society so often just looks the other way.
And how ironic is it, by the way, to have Robert De Niro playing a Jerry Langford-like talk host (the character played by Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy), and this time opposite someone who could almost a kindred spirit of Rupert Pupkin, not to mention Travis Bickle.
The only stumbling block, for me, is that Joker is an origin story about a famous super-villain, and yet portrayed by a guy in his mid 40s — and who easily looks 50 if a day. Who figures out their role in life at the half-century mark? What was happening during the previous 40-odd years? Was he gestating, marinating?
Previously: “Last night I read a 2018 draft of Todd Phillips‘ Joker, written by Phillips and Scott Silver. It’s Scorsese-ish, all right — set in 1981 Gotham, tingling with echoes of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy with a little touch of Death Wish. The basic philosophy is ‘the world’s a venal, plundering place so who can blame Joaquin Pheonix for becoming a killer clown?’ It’s a stand-alone but at the same time it definitely feeds into the Batman legend.”