We’ll know the verdict on Todd Phillips’ “Joker” film when the reviews start coming in from the various Fall film festivals in a few weeks where the R-rated, mid-budget and completely standalone DC Comics adaptation is premiering.
How good the film is isn’t clear, but there’s plenty of faith in its star Joaquin Phoenix to deliver a strong performance in the role. Recently, speaking with Italian magazine Il Vernerdi (via CBR), the actor revealed he researched a specific mental condition to emulate when it comes to his character’s signature laughter.
Phoenix says: “I started [with the laugh]. I watched videos of people suffering from pathological laughter, a neurological disorder that makes individuals laugh uncontrollably.”
The key feature of the disorder, Pathological Laughter or Crying (PLC), is a lowered behavioural response threshold resulting in episodes of laughter and/or crying without an apparent motivating stimulus. It can also include responses incongruent with the correct emotional response in a given situation (ie. laughing at sad things).
Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a man facing the cruelty and outright scorn of society along with the indifference of a system that allows him to spiral from vulnerability into depravity. A clown-for-hire by day, he strives to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds that the joke always seems to be on him.
He’s out of tune with everyone around him, as evidenced by his uncontrollable, inappropriate laughter, which gains momentum as he attempts to contain it, exposing him to further ridicule – and even violence.
Arthur, who devotes himself to caring for his fragile mother, seeks out every father figure he’s never had, from wealthy businessman Thomas Wayne to TV host Murray Franklin. Caught in a cyclical existence teetering on the precipice of reality and madness, one bad decision brings about a chain reaction of escalating, ultimately deadly, events.
“Joker” opens in cinemas everywhere on October 4th.