I just finished watching Joker in a Düsseldorf movie theater, and the first thing I can say is simply this: watch it in the original language. I saw it in three languages (Italian, German and American English) and I must say that due to the level of acting of the protagonist, you miss a lot in the dubbed version.
Joaquin Rafael Phoenix performs wonderfully well: he does it with his face, his body, his voice. If you get your voice dubbed, then wait for the Japanese manga version, while you're at it:
Dubbed Joker in Italian is at the Joker in the original language as the Golden Wind series by Jojo's Bizzarre Adventure ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JoJo's_Bizarre_Adventure:_Golden_Wind ) is in Gomorrah. Only the God Brando is missing. (to be honest, I think Golden Wind is much more realistic than Gomorrah, but this is another point).
So look at it in the original language. He speaks American a little shuffling, but he understands himself very well. And it's incredibly effective.
Once the compliments are over, let's go to the problems of this film. It could have been a film a thousand times better, and it had the ingredients to be the manifesto of a generation. Throughout the film I had the feeling that (as paradoxically it happens in the film) there has been someone worried about "setting fire to dust" or "passing the wrong message". In short, the feeling I have at the exit is to have seen a film that could REALLY be the poster of a generation, and it has been mutilated and shredded to change the concept.
It is like seeing a masked light if not suffocated by a mountain of mediocrity: with such a protagonist you could REALLY do anything and stay in history. Instead, one has the feeling that the usual
censors consultants of the majors have said "this cut it", "this change it", "this should not be done this way, it also changes this", to make the film the shadow of what it could to be.
Joker, as a film, is what happens to huge potential when it is clipped by the mediocrity.
I understand that the US sits on a powder keg. I understand that they are terrified of a figure such as the Joker could have been, but could not. But all this fear is reflected in the script: the film is clearly mutilated, and the censors have not even bothered to hide stumps and scars. And not even blood.
The film is about American mediocrity in understanding abstract moral concepts: for example, evil. For the American the evil is not a moral characteristic or a quality of the person: they must explain it in a materialistic way. And it becomes psychiatry, it becomes madness.
But let's say it openly: it doesn't hold up. Because with the Joker in the film there are thousands of people who go down the street dressed as clowns and acclaim him as a leader. His gestures become a political manifesto, and are a symbol of a struggle against inequality. All crazy? Even those who protest with the Joker? If this was the message, propaganda has failed.
But the important thing is that Joker has no need to be crazy to do what he does: if in the same context Joker was perfectly lucid and had killed the people he killed for a sense of justice , or for a political ideology , the plot would hold: Joker had all the political and moral reasons to act as he did, and he would have had them even if he hadn't been crazy.
It is very possible to rewrite the same script by removing the psychiatric condition of the protagonist, making sure that the cutting of the funds hits the mother in her place, and everything would come back anyway. Because even a normal man in those conditions could become violent: not for nothing, in the film there are thousands and thousands of citizens – without psychiatric illness – who emulate the Joker to fight an unfair system.
My thesis is that the script was rewritten to art, inserting a superfluous psychiatric illness: the film would have held up even without it. But even if you wanted to make him crazy to make some magic moments of the film possible (the dance on the stairs that take you home, for example), you could drive Joker crazy because of Gotham City without changing a minimum of the plot: only for what happens to him.
The psychiatric explanation serves to absolve the society, which very much resembles the "American way" of today. It serves to deny that there can be a rational reason to rebel against the American way, and it serves to say that whoever does it is crazy, but to avoid any misunderstanding if he becomes crazy he is not the American way, eh. Be clear.
Joker looks like a movie that could have been another V for Vendetta, and instead it was cut to the point of NEGARE that the "American way" deserves a RATIONAL violent rebellion, and to absolve (for security) the American way also from accused of making people crazy. Blame it on the narcissistic mothers.
Gotham City has a problem with narcissistic moms who drive their children crazy.
But the scissor kick doesn't work. It doesn't work because actually the three rich young men (and the Italian press will call them "bored bourgeois") that Joker murders, indeed, deserve violent death. There is not a person killed by Joker in the film who did not deserve to die, a hundred times. And the film itself leads us to think that the riots that shake Gotham City are actually a good thing.
So we have a context that fully justifies Joker in doing what he does, a revolt for emulation that is fully justifiable both in a moral (justice) and ethical (equality) sense a hero who kills the bad guys, but since the US sits on a powder keg, Joker is transformed into a psychopath, and let it be clear: it is not society that drives him crazy, mind you. But the same society is depicted as something that would make anyone go crazy, and not only that: degradation is depicted as a degradation that turns everyone into criminals, including children who beat the protagonist.
Joker in that movie could easily have been the Hero, the good dark, the Crow of the film by Brandon Lee, but someone decided that he HAD to be crazy. Because with a plot like that and an actor like that, without the madness tomorrow the US would be full of people killing the rich with the Joker mask, just like the Guy Fawkes mask marked a generation of "rebellions".
Joker is a film mutilated by a cheap and cynical surgeon who has not even bothered to hide his stumps and scars.
My theory is that this happened:
- He starts shooting the Joker, and in the original script is a Dark Hero.
- Joaquin Rafael Phoenix acts as he knows how to do, and a film of a generation begins to be seen.
- Someone sees it and says, "hey, are you crazy? If this stuff comes out tomorrow they will kill us all! ".
- Consultants arrive and threaten not to release the film unless compromises are found.
- It is said that Joker is crazy.
- Filming is continuing.
- Someone looks at him and says: hey, are you crazy? So you're saying that the American way drives people crazy and Joker is right to be crazy! So it gets even sexier! They kill us all!
- Consultants arrive and threaten not to release the film unless compromises are found.
- It is said that Joker is crazy, yes, but it is not the fault of Gotham City, it is all the fault of the mother.
- Nobody cares about changing the rest of the film, so that Joker's madness clashes with everything else.
Here is my explanation of Joker:
Americans cannot explain human evil except through psychiatry. But since they cannot even understand psychiatry, if not the concept of "trauma", then they use it as a fig leaf.
Failing to accept the fact that a sane person could wish, in the name of justice and equality, for the violent revolt against today's American way, they must enchant the character in a crazy role. But to make matters worse, the American way must also be absolved by the madness of Joker.
In all honesty, you could even use a completely invented character: there was no need even to be the same Joker as Batman. Because now the problem is simple: in that gotham city, even if Joker was crazy because of his mother, the Batman defending the status quo … is the villain in the service of the rich. A billionaire sheriff who enjoys hunting down criminals who, to be honest, are OWN criminals because of the system that Batman defends.
And it is in this forest of contradictions that the censor lets mutilations and scars emerge: Joker's madness is a fig leaf, and is clearly a political fig leaf .
A beautiful film, with an actor who is simply extraordinary: and a censor who shows himself for the cynical pig he is. Unable even to scissor without leaving obvious signs. A butcher more than a surgeon.
In short, Joker is simply a beautiful wasted opportunity. But art is aesthetic, and even after mutilation and wounds, the film is beautiful.
Moreover, the Venus of Milo has no arms. But it's beautiful.