Joker – A super Vilain

Todd Phillip’s Joker, played by Joaquin Pheonix, arrives endowed with a Golden Lion in Venice.
It is the result of a process that turns the bad guys of pop culture into icones of our time.
Explanations.

By Paola Dicelli

Reading time 3 min.

JOKER

Trailer

We had not seen such an extreme immersion into madness since Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night in 2008. While we wish Joaquin Phoenix a less fatal destiny than his predecessor, the filiation between the two performances is undeniable. Phillip’s Joker could even pass off as the genesis of Nolan’s Joker.

Muscular heroes saving the world are no longer the matter of dreams,
and Hollywood is is reclaiming their enemies.

We had not seen such an extreme immersion into madness since Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night in 2008. While we wish Joaquin Phoenix a less fatal destiny than his predecessor, the filiation between the two performances is undeniable. Phillip’s Joker could even pass off as the genesis of Nolan’s Joker.

Both of them are far from the original comics. Even though they evoke Allan Moore’s graphic Novel The Killing Joke  in both movies, there are no accidental fall in toxic waste tank here to explain the green hair and the Micheal Jackson-like white skin. Here, it only comes from a failed Ronald McDonald-like clown make up. Because, before being Gotham City’s greatest fear, the Joker was a (failed) comedian named Arthur,   caught between a crazy mother and a society in crisis that does not accept his handicap. « Happy », as he is called by his mom, laughs hysterically when he is under stress, as if to hide is inner unhappiness. He is the scrap of humanity, beaten and humiliated, until the day he fights back and kills three Wall Street employees. Interpreting his action as a rebellion against capitalism, the population that used to reject him suddenly erect him as a hero. His violence, is revengeful mindset is not the result of a pure psychopathic mind…For Todd Phillips, it is rather a resentment of being walked up. In this, he reminds us of the hero of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, openly quoted by the movie through the time is takes place in (the end of the 70s) and Robert DeNiro’s cameo. A link strenghtened by the absence of synthesis images and the choice of Phillips’ Joker does not kill gratuitously, and that is the reason why we love him (almost) more than Batman, still very young in the movie and barely present. Thanks to the impressive performances of Jack Nicholson (Batman, Tim Burton, 1989) or Heath Ledger, the Joker is now regularly ranked among the vilains that the public prefers to heroes.

Glory to the vilains
Muscular heroes saving the world are no longer the matter of dreams, and Hollywood is reclaiming their enemies. Darth Vador, Terminator or Rambo, long is the list if bad guys turned heroes…And now this tropism is becoming and industrial model. Norman Bates, the schizophrenic killer suffering from a heavy Oedipeian complexe in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), thus became the hero of the tv show Bates Motel (2013), which explores the troubled past of the mother to get a better understanding of the son. The tv show Hannibal (which came out the same year), spin-off of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), turns the cannibal serial-killer into a deliciously captivating manipulator. Now, we try to understand them, even to be empathetic with them. Even at Disney’s, Maleficient — the second movie will be in theaters on October 16th —, shows how the vilain of The Sleeping Beauty actually is not all that bad. In 2020, Cruella starring Emma Stone will depict the beginning of the Dalmatian killer. As if, from the youngest age, the public needed less monolithic heroes.

By the end of Todd Phillips’ movie, the Joker becomes the master of chaos. Joaquin Phoenix, possessed, dark and intense is clearly a favorite for the Oscars with this this movie. His character, a mirror of the ambiant disenchantment, turns the movieinto a parabole if the evolution of our society since the 80s. It is probably the reason why vilains are in nowadays : they are humane, disillusionned and only dream if justice, even if it is violent…

The Joker in 70mm at the Arlequin Theater – Paris 6e

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