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In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.

Batman has a number of enemies who roam the underbelly of Gotham City, brooding over dark thoughts. Among them, there is one who dominates the collective imagination of what the antithesis of the Batman is. With his clownish makeup, demented smile, garish costumes and painted hair, the Joker exudes a sense of ominous and unrelenting danger.

Appearing in the first issue of Batman in 1940, the Joker has become a timeless cult character courted by the greatest actors in cinema. Jack Nicholson for Tim Burton, the late Heath Ledger for Christopher Nolan and now Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Todd Phillips, ready to take on one of the most difficult costumes to put on in a standalone movie where all the spotlights will be on him and not on Bruce Wayne.

A sick mind in a sick body. Phoenix gaunt appearance with protruding shoulder blades and ribs that seem ready to puncture a thin layer of epidermis, is the result of an extreme physical transformation who gives life to a villain who is not so bad when we discover him. One performance as disturbing as it is poignant in a terribly nuanced drama. As brilliant as he is sinister, admirable as he is frightening, human as he is monstrous, maudlin as he is defiant. The Joker does not laugh, he perishes. His laughter beautifully blends the inevitable with despair.

Undoubtedly, he signs here one of the best performances of his career, even to the point of erasing his playing partners including a certain Robert De Niro in the guise of a veteran talk show host for his own show Live! With Murray Franklin especially created for the occasion. From his television, at home, with her mother (Frances Conroy), Arthur loves the show and dreams of being on stage one day next to Murray, the father figure that he had always needed.

The screenwriter duo Phillips/Silver offer an edifying mature story describing a man facing a conformist system rotten from the inside, where those who don't fit the mold are treated as pariahs, where the minorities of the rich crush in indifference the poorest, and where the media are finally there only to serve as a guardrail to all this structure by illusory entertainment. A wink to our society that does not always please.

Visually as well as symbolically, Gotham perfectly depicts a corrupt and putrid world where social class is crushed, which later becomes the Batman's playground.

“It is just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” Arthur Fleck

Light years away from current superhero productions and their usual Manicheanism, this origin story marks a turning point in the world of villains. A true societal mirror, served by a strong and powerful socio-political message, Joker is much more than just another adaptation and marks in the most beautiful way the complexity of a character know by everyone and magnificently embodied by a Joaquin Phoenix, at the top of his art.


Directed by Todd Phillips

Written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver

Released on October 4, 2019

Runtime : 122 minutes

Casting : Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Breff Cullen, Alec Baldwin, Carrie Louise Putrello, Douglas Hodge, Dante Pereira-Olson.


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