Send in the clowns, but for the love of God, get them a good therapist! The trailer for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker has just arrived, and it is almost too uncomfortable to watch.
The new film, from director Todd Phillips and producer Bradley Cooper, tells the story of Phoenix's Arthur Fleck, a Gotham City clown-for-hire with a very sad life. Arthur spends his days tending to his ailing mother, but desperately wants to be a stand-up comedian. The problem is, no one finds him funny — including late night host Franklin (Robert De Niro) who makes a mockery of him one night on his show.
Arthur just can't catch a break, and no one is keen on throwing an ounce of kindness his way. A mother shuts down his silly entertainment of her young son on a bus. He's attacked on the street while in his clown get-up. Even Arthur's therapist is tired of him. It's all so, so, so much, and if watching people get relentlessly bullied onscreen while their hopes for a better life are simultaneously dashed is not your thing, well, this movie will be seriously hard to watch.
It's not that we should feel so awful for Arthur: It's a dark origin story. about how Arthur will eventually become one of Batman's most notorious villains, unleashing plenty of violence unto Gotham along the way.
"My whole life, I didn't know if I even really existed. But I do," muses Arthur in the trailer. "People are starting to notice."
The trailer teases the chaos, with citizens of Gotham wreaking havoc while donning clown masks. Wherever Batman is — soon to be played by Robert Pattinson in the DC Universe, though not necessarily in this side of it — it almost doesn't matter: This is Arthur's movie.
"When you bring me out," says Arthur in the trailer to Franklin, who has invited him on the show now that Arthur is in full-on clown makeup, "can you introduce me as Joker?"
Should we laugh or cry over this sad clown? Check out the trailer below and decide for yourself.
Joker premieres at TIFF 2019.