Joker revolves around a severely mentally ill man named Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoneix) who is pushed over the edge of madness due to isolation, abuse, and society.
Firstly, Joaquin Pheonix is absolutely magnetic in his portrayal of the Joker. He is creepy, unhinged, and unstable from the very start of the film. He is absolutely committed to the role and solidifies himself as one of the best actors working today. His performance here is absolutely worthy of an Oscar. I must also mention that his Joker laugh is very loud and unsettling, but I thought they put a clever spin to it in the film that I won’t spoil here.
The story itself is pretty predictable seeing as this is a Joker origin story. But there are some very obvious plot points and homages that come from two of Martin Scorsese’s films, The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Both are terrific films, but I do wish the film was more subtle at times with these references. However, the story beats they took from those films did fit into this story nicely.
The film is very unsettling in parts and in some ways holds a mirror to our own society now. And while I think it was good way for the audience to reflect on how society is today and what we still need to change, I can see how this can turn people off, especially those who don’t want to be reminded of the violence terrorizing our world today. I will also note that the film is actually not that violent, of course there are a couple of violent scenes, but both Deadpool and Logan are more violent films than this one. You’re mostly just watching a man becoming crazier and angrier due to certain factors of his life that he finally snaps.
There was a lot of controversy over this film before its release that I believe got out of hand. A lot of people were worried the film would glorify the Joker’s mannerisms and actions, but it doesn’t. Director Todd Phillips does a great job at towing the line. Just as you start to feel sorry for him, he goes and does something horrible.
Some may think the first act is slow or it drags on, but I didn’t think so. I thought it was great set up for the character and for ramping up tension. Though, I felt like this movie didn’t know when to end. I thought it was going to end in three different places before it finally did.
The visuals for this film were stunning, though it’s mostly just of shots of Phoenix in the grimy, dirty streets of Gotham. But I could’ve done with fewer scenes of Joker dancing. The score was also haunting and emphasized the absolute evilness of this character.
Overall, Joker is a great character study and a brilliant film. Though the story itself is a bit predictable, Phoenix absolutely carries this film with his amazing performance.
I give Joker an A-