Todd Phillips recounts the origins of Gotham City’s craziest villain. A huge political film under assumed Scorsese influence, carried by the insane interpretation of Joaquin Phoenix.
It was one of the event films of the year 2019: Joker will be broadcast for the first time in clear, this Sunday on TF1. Here is the review of First.
No offense to the pessimists convinced that Hollywood studios have definitively given up on the artistic side, their eyes riveted on the receipts of their films that have become products, so it is possible to watch a film centered on a comic book character without having to fade deluges of special effects like trying to drown spoiled meat in a thick sauce. Yes, in these times of sequels, reboots, spin-offs in spades with their characters by the kilo, it is therefore possible to tend towards the blueprint to get back to the essentials: an implacable story served by a direct realization and a interpretation never unnecessarily spectacular.
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That’s all that succeeded Todd Phillips with Joker And much more. The opening of his film sets the tone. We see Arthur Fleck make up as a clown, a “job” that makes this apprentice stand-up comedian make a living by holding a sign in the middle of the street to attract customers. In front of a mirror, he puts his hands on his face to force a smile. A smile to give courage and face the indifference of the street and even more violence. Because a gang will decide to have fun at his expense by stealing his sign before beating him up.
In a few scenes, everything is said. Joker will be a great film on humiliation, on the total impunity in which the most powerful believe themselves in the face of the weakest who are drudgery and humiliated at will. Until the cup is full and revolt arises. Brutal The action may take place in the 80s, Joker is fully in line with our era, when people and elites (politics, media, economics, etc.) seem to have become definitively irreconcilable.
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But here there is no enjoyment of spurting blood, no morbid game with the spectator. When Fleck/Joker kills, there is no summons. This absence of effect characterizes Phillips’s precise and never restless realization. After Adam McKay with The Big shortshere is another golden boy of American comedy venturing into a serious register, a turn started with war dogs. But he goes even further in the dark. Joker is lived under tension, according to Scorsesian influences assumed and perfectly digested, starting with The Waltz of the Puppet since Robert De Niro plays here a talk show host character close to that of Jerry Lewis whom he harassed at Marty’s. A De Niro of exemplary sobriety and therefore the perfect complement to the insane interpretation of Joaquin Phoenix. You have to be an insane genius of the game to interpret like him all the shades of madness, from the most internalized to the most creepy. To never stutter in his interpretation. One would have thought the role worn by the unforgettable interpretations of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Phoenix reinvents the myth. Because he is never in a one-man show but the – obviously central – piece of a vast puzzle that does not rest solely on him. Joker will it be a game changer? In this Hollywood world where geek cinema that used to be viewed from above has taken power, sometimes behaving with the same contempt for other cinemas as the one it fell victim to, the box office of Joker will be scrutinized closely. But all of that no longer belongs to Todd Philipps. He made the essential: an immense popular auteur film. One of the major shocks of 2019.
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