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Venice Film Festival: Critics Share First Audience Reactions to Joaquin Phoenix as ‘Joker’

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It was the middle of the night in the US when critics in Venice sat down to watch one of the fall’s most buzzed about films. “Joker” will have its world premiere tonight, but word from Italy is that Joaquin Phoenix may finally be on his way to that elusive Academy Award.

Directed by Todd Phillips, “Joker” is an original origin story about Arthur Fleck. Phillips has stated that this is not a story connected to any of the many comic series involving the famous clown and his archnemesis, Batman.

Warner Bros, who produced the film, summarizes the plot:

“Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis and isan original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, a an disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”

Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beetz, Marc Maron, Shea Whigham and Frances Conroy also star. And yes, there will be appearances by a young Bruce Wayne, his parents, and his lovable butler.

The press and industry crowd at Venice reportedly gave a long and robust ovation to “Joker” as the credits rolled. Many are holding their official reviews until the premiere later today. But there were plenty of reactions on Twitter.

Adriana Diaz had this to say (translated from Spanish):

it’s surprising, dark and unsettling. He is a Joaquin Phoenix in one of his best roles, giving an acting masterclass for almost 2 h. It’s a unique piece thanks to the approach they’ve given to such a complicated character with so many layers. It’s brilliant.

International Film Critique shared an entire thread of positivity. Here is just part of their comments:

Warner Bros. will release “Joker” on October 4.

What do you think of the early word for “Joker?” Is it what you expected? Comment below and share your thoughts!


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Written by Karen M. Peterson

Karen Peterson is a writer from Southern California. When she is not at the ballpark cheering on her LA Angels, she can usually be found in a movie theater or in front of the television. Karen is obsessed with awards shows, and loves everything from the smallest indie film to the biggest of big budget spectacles. She is also unapologetically in love with Tom Cruise.


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