If there’s one unifying trait across all portrayals of the Joker, it is that he is insane. How this is explored and expressed, however, is different in every story. In Joker, especially in this latest trailer, it looks like we’re getting a deep dive into what makes this character so tragic…and also so absolutely terrifying.
Here’s the official synopsis for the film:
Director Todd Phillips’ Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
What I love about this trailer is that it highlights the mental state of Arthur, showing us that his therapy sessions have been going rather badly. His humiliation on TV as well as how cruelly people treat him when he’s just trying to bring joy to the world is especially poignant in the trailer. Additionally, we see more of Robert DeNiro as host Murray Franklin, who first insults Arthur but then brings him on his show as Joker. It almost makes it seem like Joker starts a movement in Gotham against Thomas Wayne while having a romance with Sophie Dumond, played by Zazie Beetz. But what does this movement want? And how is it going to play out with his eventual appearance of Batman?
Joaquin Phoenix seems perfectly at home in the role, clearly throwing himself into the character fully. What’s most surprising to me is that Todd Phillips has only been known for comedies like the Hangover series, so this presents a dark turn in subject matter for him. The film will be debuting at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, so we should be seeing some reviews soon.
Joker premieres in theaters on October 4, 2019.