We decided to go to ‘Joker’, the movie by Todd Phillips starring Joaquin Phoenix, for the flood of good reviews received after his time at the San Sebastian Film Festival, if you want to watch it online, here's the review.
Now, once seen, we can say that these criticisms are fair and well deserved. ‘Joker’ is an excellent approach to the DC villain, who had always been relegated to a secondary condition in Batman’s films, whether in Tim Burton’s or Christopher Nolan’s. On this occasion, is the absolute protagonist of the function, its director has been able to deepen in his complex psyche, in his motivations, and in that personality as protein as caricaturesque, of the character of the Commedia dell’Arte.
And what about the characterization and interpretation of Joaquin Phoenix. It is superb, anthological. It takes possession of the character from the foreground, from the first laugh, and sinks and drags you into the misery of its fragile existence as if you were thrown into the sea with some stones attached to the feet. In our memory, he is and will be the image of Joker from now on, even though Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger did a commendable interpretive work.
Recently it has been known that the eccentric actor and singer Jared Leto, who already played the Joker in the failed movie 'Suicide Squad', tried to prevent Joaquin Phoenix from taking on the role he had dreamed for himself, to the point of trying to boycott the film. Once the result is seen, it becomes difficult to believe that Leto could have offered us such a complete and complex Joker.
We do not like very much that the actors who suffer a radical physical transformation or who play a character with mental defects are given only for that reason with all kinds of awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor, but in this case we think Joaquin Phoenix deserves all the acknowledgments and praise that may come from criticism.
They say he lost 23 kilos to get into this role, and that diet drove him crazy. We guess that suffering served to give the character more packaging. Who knows art from within knows that it hurts. The truth is that his figure (pale, bony and deformed, with some shoulder blades like disengaged that make him hump) causes you a mixture between dejectedness and tenderness. When he dances with his naked torso, this morbid sensation still increases. In the case of the Joker, it is clear that body and mind go together, that one is a reflection of the other, the sickly thinness of his sick mind.
In a recent interview, Joaquin Phoenix acknowledged that to get into Joker's skin he saw a lot of YouTube videos of people with nervous and uncontrollable laughter. That is what an actor of the method would do. Also, for the already famous Joker dance, he was inspired by the choreography of 'The Old Soft Shoe', by Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow in 'The Wizard of Oz').
Without a doubt, the Joker is the flesh of a psychiatry manual and a subject worthy of an in-depth psychological analysis. But what is the mental illness that Arthur Fleck suffers and that will eventually lead him to become the Joker? Many will ask. They probably converge more than one disorder in their figure, but specifically, the one that causes these uncontrollable outbursts of laughter is known as gelastic epilepsy and is caused by a congenital malformation in the hypothalamus that has a very difficult cure and that, usually, is treated with medication.
Another disorder of neuronal and affective type that could cause this pathological laughter is the so-called emotional lability or pseudobulbar syndrome. Also, in the Joker, antisocial psychosis and borderline personality disorder concur.
In the end, the Joker is a product of society (of an equally sick society), of Gotham, where inequality and crime thrive. Not surprisingly, one of the triggers (the second) of his metamorphosis is the closure of Social Services and the consequent denial of his medications, which he stops taking by force. The society begat the monster that later ended up devouring it.