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Venice Reviews, JOKER ~ Not a joke, but a compelling serious film


Joaquin Phoenix inhabits the skin of The Joker

By Alex Deleon

The movie JOKER, which had its world premierę at Venice 2019 and won the Golden Lion best film award on the Lido, has been mistakenly termed a "comic book film".  

True it is in a sense a spinoff from the comic book based Batman film series, however, this is a serious non-comic book psychological study of how a would be stand-up comedian  with a pathological laughing syndrome goes wrong and becomes a psychotic killer.  

Joaquin Phoenix, 44, with his astounding interpretations of this peculiar character has now clearly established himself as the new king of Hollywood and even knocks off one of the old kings, Robert De Niro, in a short but telling sequence. 

Basically this is a speculative account of how a notoriously evil public enemy, later to be known as "The Joker", started out as an innocent clown who loved his mother but was the victim of a "condition" (uncontrollable laughter) which made him a societal outcast and eventually warped his mind.  His first killing which was basically in self defense when brutally attacked by three "respectable" men in a metro car is interpreted by the media as unmotivated murder because only we in the audience saw the brutal kicking attack. The irony is that the gun he pulled on them was given him by a fellow clown to use only in self defense.  It turns out that his widowed mother has dark secrets of her own (which will peripherally connect us with the future Batman) but Phoenix as wannabe comedian "Arthur Fleck " (what a spotty name!) takes this  role to the outer limits of the twilight zone as his frenzied laughter becomes more and more menacing. His constant disclaimer is "I have a condition" -- and what a condition it will turn out to be! -- culminating in his live on TV shooting of a Jay Leno type talk show host (De Niro) who, fascinated by his personality has invited Fleck to appear as a special guest. Not enough can be said of Joaquin Phoenix's bravura performance and the end result of this masterful film (Kudos to director Todd Phillips as well) is to shock you out of your pants. But a kind of shock that is exhilarating in the cinematic artistic and social sense. 

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About Mostra Internazionale d Arte Cinematografica Venice

Oldest festival in the world, MOSTRA is Non-specialised competitive event for features and shorts. Two competing sections and three Prizes: the Golden Lion, the Lion of the Year and the Lion of the Future to best director`s debut film.



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