One of Gotham’s most famous villains arrived at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, in a standalone dark story telling the origins of the Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix follows in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson, the late Heath Ledger and most recently Jared Leto to play Batman’s nemesis in “Joker”, turning him from a vulnerable beaten down loner into the confident, makeup wearing baddie.
Set in the early 1980s, when Bruce Wayne is still a child and years away from becoming the DC Comics superhero, the movie, which premiered at the festival, begins with Gotham in turmoil with rubbish piling up on the streets.
Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck works as a clown, swinging banners on the street or performing for sick children in hospital. He wants to be a stand-up comedian, mimicking others to learn how to do so, but ends up being the butt of jokes himself.
Nicknamed Happy by his mother, with whom he lives, Fleck is anything but.
He has an uncontrollable and at times misplaced laughter that is often misunderstood and sees him taunted by bullies.
Alienated and fragile, he begins to morph into Joker, unwillingly inspiring others in a fractured and violent Gotham.
“The attraction to make this film and this character was that we were going to approach it in our own way so for me I didn’t refer to any past creations of the character,” Phoenix told a news conference.
“I did identify Arthur as a particular personality but then I also wanted the freedom to create something that wasn’t identifiable. This is a fictional character and I didn’t want a psychiatrist to be able to identify the kind of person he was.”
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