It’s 1981 in Gotham City. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. There’s a garbage strike, rats rampaging in the piled-up trash, parts of the city are no better than slums and Arthur Fleck, a troubled professional clown and a wannabe stand-up comedian, sits in front of a mirror, slowly painting his face.
Here is Joker movie review that shows Joaquin Phoenix attempting to smile and resorts to holding the corners of his mouth up in a grin that stretches from ear to ear. A single tear rolls down his cheek unnoticed, pulling his make-up with it. So begins Joker. There’s not a costume or burst of CGI in sight. Just a man. A sad clown. And as the film begins you know you’re in for an emotional ride. Let’s delve a little deeper into the dark depths of Arthur’s mind and find out what’s in stire for you as we analyse Joaquin Phoenix starrer epic, Joker.
Joker Movie Review- The Plot
At the start of the film, Arthur is employed as a clown — an intentional foreshadow — who works as a sign waver. One day, he’s picked on by a bunch of kids who proceed to destroy the sign and beat him up. Things aren’t any better on the personal side of things. There’s no one in his life except his mother Penny (Frances Conroy), whom he diligently takes care of. Together, they always watch Murray Franklin’s (De Niro) nightly talk show, which Arthur vividly dreams to be a part of.
On top of all that, Arthur has a medical condition that causes uncontrollable episodes of laughter, which doesn’t earn him any compassion even though he carries a laminated card that says as much. This takes place against the backdrop of a Gotham City where the divide between the haves and the have-nots is deepening by the day. The messaging is pervasive throughout Joker, with the city having trouble dealing with everything from “super rats” to funding its social services. It doesn’t help that Gotham’s next mayoral candidate is an uber-rich man in Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen). Saying anything more would be giving the story away.
Joker Movie Review- On The Upside
As Arthur/Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing. Phillips has said he had a picture of the actor above his screen when writing the script and it’s a belief that has paid off. Phoenix inhabits Arthur: having lost weight for the role, he looks thin, frail, hungry. Shadows carve out his exposed bones. His physicality is precise — the way he moves, shuffles, runs, sits, smokes, shrinks. His usual intensity is on full display and it’s captivating, even overwhelming in moments. Comparing him to Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson feels like nonsense: this is a Joker we’ve never seen — in many respects, it isn’t the Joker, it’s Arthur.
This is a deliberate consequence of stepping away from the source material. Phillips has said that though elements were drawn from 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke (in which the Joker is an unsuccessful stand-up), the film doesn’t follow the comic books. A bold move for a universe with such an ardent fan base, but it’s the film’s greatest asset. Not only does it, and the character, sit completely apart from the rest of the DC Cinematic Universe, but it stands apart from comic book movies entirely (even The Dark Knight, as grounded as it was). It’s a character and a movie that’s liberated, entirely. Free to be whatever and whomever it chooses.
While this is Phoenix’s film, Frances Conroy is quietly devastating as Arthur’s mother Penny, and Zazie Beetz, as neighbour Sophie Dumond, while arguably underused, bring vital humanity to her scenes with Arthur. The most talked-about piece of casting was obviously Robert De Niro as late-night TV host Murray Franklin. Phillips has made no secret of his love for The King Of Comedy and it’s a sprinkle of magic to see Rupert Pupkin become Murray Franklin.
Mention must be made of Joker’s cello score by Hildur Guðnadóttir — mournful, dark and fractured — and the cinematography by Lawrence Sher. In his hands, Gotham is alive as a flawed, brutal, broken-hearted character in its own right. Oppressive and oppressed, with a glimmer of light that never truly gets in. It throbs at the very heart of the film, waiting for what is destined to come. And the two things entwine perfectly as Arthur dances between the light and the shadows, each bone visible and sharp as the strings swell and scratch.
Joker Movie Review- On The Downside
The only negative standpoint in the film would be its an attempt to be far off from the DC universe. There’s a reason why Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight had such a memorable villain as Joker, the character was an unreliable storyteller. Basically he had no origin story whatsoever. Whereas Todd Phillips attempts to give a human side to this supervillain.
Now, on paper that may sound like a great idea, but hardcore comic book fans might decide to steer clear of the film’s track. Whether the fans would look past the face paint and embrace an original back story of an antihero will decide the ultimate fate of the film.
Joker Movie Review- All In All
For those that usually restrict themselves to the superhero genre, Joker will no doubt be a breath of fresh air. And though it’s not part of the DC film universe that includes Wonder Woman and Aquaman, it does leave room for a future with more of Bruce Wayne. We’re going with 4 out of 5 stars for Joker. Go watch it immediately in the name of insanity!