Joaquin Phoenix's Next Movie Will Probably Be As Good As The Joker

Although Joaquin Phoenix’s acting couldn’t save the movie from its bad take on mental illness, his next movie can allow him to shine in a way that does not overshadow the story.

It was Joaquin Phoenix’s tour de force performance as Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime that made Joker an instant classic, but his next movie, Disappointment Blvd., could be even better than that.

Throughout the course of his career, Phoenix has been cast as a character with a mental illness many times.

His vulnerability, quiet intensity, and personal struggles – he has talked openly about his own crippling anxiety – have helped him to play these roles with surprising authenticity and appropriate sensitivity, whether it was playing Freddie Quell in The Master or playing a fictionalized version of himself in I’m Still Here.

He was put to a greater challenge in a comic book movie called “Joker”, where he had to play a neurodivergent character.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Next Movie Will Probably Be As Good As The Joker

In the process of proving comic book movies can be so much more than what they currently are, Phoenix not only passed that test but also turned in one of the most critically acclaimed performances of the decade.

The Joker, real name Arthur Fleck, is both sympathetic and odious at the same time.

Often within the same scene, Phoenix is by turns joyful and brooding, gentle and sadistic, and this is a dance that he manages with grace, making the most of the contrasting emotions. In spite of all of this, the portrayal has not been without its critics.

When Arthur goes off his medicine, he becomes violent in the film and becomes increasingly violent.

It appears that this perpetuates one of the stereotypes, which is that violence is correlated with mental illness when in reality the inverse is true.

It is true that Phoenix does his best with the material, and indeed, most of Joker’s criticism of the film was directed at the movie itself, and not at Phoenix. According to many critics, Joker is too similar to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy for people to ignore the similarities.

Joaquin Phoenix's Next Movie Could Be Even Better Than Joker
Joaquin Phoenix’s Next Movie Could Be Even Better Than Joker

A number of other criticisms have been leveled against the movie, including clichéd dialogue, on-the-nose symbolism, and a predictable plot.

There is no doubt that if Joker is remembered for anything, it will be for Phoenix’s complex and soulful performance as the Joker, in my opinion.

The next movie he makes could prove to be the vehicle that the great actor deserves to have.

Like the Joker, the upcoming horror-comedy Disappointment Blvd. should give Joaquin Phoenix an opportunity to shine, but this time without outshining the film itself.

It will be released by A24 in 2023. Disappointment Blvd. is the third feature film from writer-director Ari Aster, who has become a godhead in the horror renaissance we are experiencing today.

There are two of his novels that are considered modern classics in the genre, Hereditary, and Midsommar. Aster also has a strong preoccupation with mental illness, a theme that runs deep throughout both of his films.

Although there have been few details about the plot of Disappointment Blvd., the central story, about the downward spiral of a successful entrepreneur, suggests that mental illness may once again be a recurring theme in the movie.

The film will find both its director and its star in a strong position if that is the case.

Todd Phillips’ treatment of mental illness in Joker came as no surprise to me, considering the director was known for Old School, Road Trip, and The Hangover, so such a serious subject matter could not be handled with care by him. On the other hand, Ari Aster brings a lighter touch to the proceedings.

Joaquin Phoenix's Next Movie Could Be Even Better Than Joker
Joaquin Phoenix’s Next Movie Could Be Even Better Than Joker

It is true that Joker uses Arthur Fleck’s mental illness as a motivation for the horror he inflicts, whereas Aster’s films explore the way in which mental illness can directly inflict horror.

In Hereditary, it is the horror of no longer being able to recognize one’s own loved ones, even one’s own self, inflicted by dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia that creates this horror.

The dread that one feels when one is alone with oneself, in the universe, with one’s fears, is the central theme of Midsommar, which centers on anxiety and panic disorder.

In the case of Aster’s characters, the conflicts are mostly internal in nature. Considering the quiet intensity of Phoenix’s acting, who does much of his work on the inside, he seems a natural choice to star in one of Aster’s films.

Mental illness may or may not play a role in Disappointment Blvd., but Joaquin Phoenix is no one-trick pony. There is no doubt that he has the range to handle whatever Ari Aster throws at him.

There is no need to look further than M. Night Shyamalan’s silly but scary Signs and The Village as proof that he is capable of doing horror comedies.

It’s clear, however, that Disappointment Blvd. is going to be anything but a disappointment when it’s released in 2023 due to the fact that it pairs one of today’s best directors with one of today’s best actors.