The Joker is back in town
There was much gnashing of teeth when it was announced that the director of the Hangover trilogy was making a Joker origin story. Proof, if it were needed, that message boards and social media are often best ignored.
That’s because Todd Phillips’ film has more in common with the deliciously dark and gritty films of the 1970s and early 1980s (think Dog Day Afternoon, The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver) than the Spandex-clad superhero films you pretend you’re bored of (box-office takings suggest we’re not that bored).
Joaquin Phoenix portrays Arthur Fleck, someone who seemingly cannot catch a break. As life seems to be always laughing at – rather than with – Fleck, something eventually gives to make for a crescendo that has left audiences speechless.
Phoenix is being lauded for one of the finest performances of a mercurial career and is the early favourite to finally win the Academy Award. Having lost 52lbs for the role, he is one of the few actors who can evoke true pity one moment, before having you squirming with repulsion in your seat the next.
And if ever a film was set to break the comic-book hoodoo when it comes to winning the Best Picture Oscar, Joker may be it. Because, while there are enough nudges to keep comic book fans happy, this is a film for those who prefer Coppola to capes. Joker is especially great news as it means filmmakers are now going to really have to deliver if they’re to match something as special as Todd Phillips’ latest. So, who’s laughing now?
Joker is currently playing in cinemas nationwide