A Warner Bros Picture, Written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, Directed by Todd Phillips.
Joker has become the centre of a media storm that is totally missing the point the film is trying to make, and is therefore letting down this incredibly powerful and intellectual movie, which also features one of cinema’s great performances from Joaquin Phoenix.
The movie itself is remarkably good, it really is better than anyone could have realistically expected. Todd Phillips has crafted a Gotham City that feels so lived in, full of horror, and on the brink of revolution that it makes Arthur’s descent feel incredibly authentic. The things he has to endure are heartbreakingly real and agonising to watch, it is so evident how the people and world around him crafted this monster. There are so many surprises so I cannot go into it, but the chain of events that lead to “when you bring me out, can you introduce me as Joker” feel so natural and terrifying. Saying all of that, there is absolutely no way his actions should be defended and I don’t think the movie does that at any point, which I hope people can see. It builds to an incredibly unique, thrilling, and startling last 30 minutes that will go down in cinema history.
The films visual style and character focused drama has incredibly strong ties to the past Scorsese films, specifically Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, and this is made even more evident with Robert De Niro’s presence in the film, in a role that is small but crucial. Zazie Beetz is sympathetic and a good addition as well, but this film totally belongs to one man, and he is Joaquin Phoenix. From the vulnerabilities he presents in Arthur, to the bizarre and horrific laugh, the physical transformation, to the absolutely chilling edge he brings to the character, Phoenix has truly re-defined the Joker and has delivered one of the most complex and impressive acting performances in recent memory.
This is a film about society. It is a society that lets down the mentally ill, the poor, the most vulnerable among us, and it is often the rich and powerful that are the main contributors to this horror. It is Gotham City in the 1980s, but it is almost every real life city in 2019, and that is haunting. The outrage about how this film may inspire mass shootings is shocking and wide of the mark, and is almost in itself a more likely way of inciting violence. Joker actually acts as a warning for the horrors that could follow if we continue to act as we do, and I hope this message manages to cut through the noise.
I sincerely hope the outrage quietens down and this film can be seen for what it is. The movie experience feels almost like a fever dream that Arthur goes through, and the way Phillips handles all the important subjects I’ve previously mentioned and mixes them brilliantly into the Batman mythology shows the level of research that was done, and really proves to me that this film should feature in the awards race across the board, but the one certainty is that Joaquin Phoenix must be nominated for his mesmerizing performance.
Send in the clown…
Word Count = 547
Rating = 4.5/5