By: Skeptical-Cinephile (Two Beers) –
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past couple of months, Joker is finally out in theaters and boy is it a controversial one. The movie has been making headlines for winning the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival, to the director making comments about woke/ cancel culture, to people questioning if it is really a good idea to portray a mass killer in a sympathetic light. I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free so that you can go enjoy this movie in theaters, because this is definitely a movie worth seeing.
Arthur Fleck is just a regular, mentally unstable guy working as a clown in Gotham city in the 80s. The city is in a state of unrest, much like Arthur’s mind. Gotham seems to take joy in keeping Arthur down while he tries to improve his life and be happy. But a man can only take so much before he looks at his situation and can’t stop laughing.
Joaquin Phoenix is amazing and the best part of this movie. I was going into this only really caring about his performance and as a result I really enjoyed this movie. Phoenix takes a lot of care in how he handled the character. The Joker we see in Joker is unlike any other brought to the screen thus far. It is difficult to compare him to Heath Ledger’s Joker since they take such wildly different approaches. Phoenix’s Joker is at the start of the villain’s long history so he is still easing his way into the chaotic mindset of what the character becomes. What is undeniable is the happiness he displays as he moves further and further into darkness.
Phoenix manages to give off the feeling
that something just isn’t right about this guy.
Joker is able to create the dark and gritty world that Zach Snyder could only dream of, complete with the R-rated violence to go with it. While I am one to question unnecessary violence in a movie, I found that Joker’s adult themes are needed for the overall tone. The insanity that sits at the center of suffering in this movie couldn’t be expressed in a PG-13 rating. Despite the outstanding performance by Phoenix, the supporting cast does admirably. They compliment the story and give depth to the world like any good supporting cast should. The movie is well built to house the character study of Arthur Fleck.
Joker as a film is pretty enjoyable, but if you are going in looking for the next installment in the Batman franchise then you are not going to have a good time. This movie consciously avoids being part of any DC movie canon to the point that it becomes a little too obvious. I felt like there were moments towards the end where Joaquin Phoenix was being restrained in his performance. Like they were trying to avoid being compared to any other past Joker performance by being unlike any other. Todd Phillips as the director is the weakest trait of the movie. There wasn’t much in terms of an original stylistic choice. This movie felt like it could have been made by anyone. What special thing did the director of the Hangover bring to this movie? This isn’t enough to bring down the movie but it is still worth noting.
Unless the cigarettes were a style choice,
in which case Phillips’ aesthetic is all over this movie.
If you are looking for a movie that will keep you engaged the whole time then get out and see Joker. It’s a dark and disturbing adventure that will have you leaving the theater fascinated. It’s a shame this movie has so much controversy surrounding it because it has my favorite on screen performance of the year. Joker is a movie that it worth making the trip to the theater for. I’m hoping to catch it again soon.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they considered
making this a musical at one point.
Joker (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time that Arthur/ Joker dances
Take a Drink: every time that Arthur/ Joker is smoking
Take a Drink: every time that Arthur/ Joker is topless
Take a Drink: every time that Arthur/ Joker laughs