Joker is a comic book psychological thriller directed and produced by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote with Scott Silver. The film presents a possible origin for the Clown Prince of Crime. I previously reviewed it for the Daily Wire where I focused on some of the themes and the technical aspect. For this review, I want to focus on other topics.
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a failing stand-up comedian living in Gotham City with his mother Penny (Frances Conroy). He is a frequent patient to their social services, but they are soon cut, forcing him to live out his life with a job as a party clown. He idolizes late-night talkshow host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) and daydreams he would have a sort of father-figure relationship with him. After being fired from his job, he rides the tram where he is assaulted by three Wayne Enterprises employees who he kills. He is shocked to find the deaths cause a wave of support in Gotham which start protests. This incident earns the attention of mayoral candidate Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), who calls him and his supporters a “clown.” This incites more protests and to Arthur’s surprise, he is seen as a folk hero of sorts. However, as he realizes more about his life and what was untrue, he starts to unravel and grow more violent.
Joaquin Phoenix delivers a powerful performance as Fleck. While the characterization of the Joker is not the usual one you see in other films. This movie focuses less on the escalation of violence and more on the descent into madness. Where Cesar Romero presented a crazy clown, Jack Nicholson a psychotic hitman, Hammil an intelligent (yet crazed) madman, and Heath Ledger a virus plaguing the city, Fleck is a disturbed man who is caught up in a disturbing circumstance.
Philips presents a different take on the tale. With the other actors listed above showed how they affected Gotham, this movie shows how Gotham affects the Joker. It was a risky move that Philips played and while it did make the narrative seem a bit disjointed at times, it definitely made the movie more of character study,
As a comic book fan, I watch this movie as a what DC Comics calls an “Elseworld.” These are alternative takes on the characters we love, for instance, there is one where Bruce Wayne becomes Green Lantern instead of Batman. In that regard, this movie is top-notch, presenting a creepy and disturbing tale of a man who has been abandoned by a system that is supposed to help him, forcing him to rely on people who only want to use him as an icon. He turns to them because they “see” him. In that regard, it puts his performance as the Joker in the top five to be sure.
Of course, the gatekeepers are trying to say it is not a “comic book” film and as usual, they are wrong. It features many scenes, lines of dialogue, scenery, and tropes from the source material. Now, it does remove cliches about the Joker origin, but it does not remove itself from the comic book world.
Naturally, Warner Bros. and DC Films are reading all of the wrong messages like they did for the DCEU. For instance, when fans reacted to the tepid Man of Steel, instead of thinking, “maybe Superman shouldn’t kill people,” they thought, “oh, they want Ben Affleck to moon the audience as Batman.” Wrong on every level. Now, there is talk of more villain spin-offs when that is not why the movie was successful. It was successful because it was a good movie, not simply because they made a movie about a popular comic book villain.
Bottom line, Joker is a psychological thriller that is disturbing, creepy, and very well-made. While I would not call it a “treat,” it is incredibly good and one of the best movies of 2019.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Disturbing scenes, Foul language, Violence, Psychological terror
FAVORITE QUOTE: You don’t listen, do you? I don’t think you ever really hear me. You just ask the same questions every week. “How’s your job?” “Are you having any negative thoughts?” All I have are negative thoughts.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of The Laundromat and Richard Jewell. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
Did you know my new fantasy novel “The Seven Royals: All Good Things” is now available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon? You can get your e-book copy at BookLocker.
You can find me everywhere on social media! Facebook: Author Jacob Airey | Instagram: realjacobairey| Twitter: @realJacobAirey | YouTube: StudioJake
[…] liked all of these films, loved them, in fact, and sure, Joker won several awards at the 92nd Academy Awards, but the same year, Avengers: Endgame came out. Guess […]
[…] costumes from the video game and they were illustrated well. I did think their design of the Joker made him look a little old, but outside of that, well […]
[…] woman Elsa Carine (Angela Sarafyan), and a conspiracy connected to land baron Walter Sylvan (Brett Cullen). Are Nick’s memories playing tricks on him or was she not who she said she […]
[…] (Illeana Douglas). However, his life is turned upside down by a convicted rapist named Max Cady (Robert De Niro). Bowden represented him fourteen years earlier and Max is convinced that Sam intentionally […]
[…] enjoyable short film that definitely captured the essence of Batman and his relationship with the Joker. It had some interesting conversations and all three of the main actors did a good job with their […]
[…] since the character’s first appearance. Despite how much I enjoyed Joaquin Phoenix‘s performance, I tend to agree with the people who say the Joker is evil, not insane. He is a sadist, a […]
[…] When Jason Todd first returns to confront Batman, he takes on the identity of the Red Hood, which formerly belonged to the Joker. […]
[…] To Batman” is my favorite story. In it, the Joker is terrorizing Gotham and Batman is feeling the pressure to find his archfoe. Commissioner Gordon […]
[…] At times, the movie focuses on Quinn and her attempt to “emancipate” herself from the Joker. Then it splits off with a voice-over transition to a different character and, at least four times, […]
[…] liked Joker, loved it, in fact. However, it was not the only game in town this year. Not by a longshot. […]
[…] Actor, winner: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker. Way to go. Well deserved. His performance was well […]
[…] I think Joker should win “Best Picture” for the performance of Joaquin Phoenix, who should also win […]
[…] will say, this is actually not a bad list. Joker, Jojo Rabbit, Parasite are all excellent picks and the first three I mentioned I have not seen, but […]
[…] While you are at it, check out my comic book reviews of Batman: City of Bane and my movie review of Joker. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this […]