With all the media attention Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker has received in the past month, it’s difficult not to wonder what all the fuss is about. Joker details the mentally tainted life of a struggling comedian named Arthur Fleck. Working a clown day job, Arthur is subjected to the rough underbelly of Gotham city- he walks streets lined with garbage and is the victim of several violent attacks. Upon one particular attack, Arthur kills three wealthy businessmen and slowly loses his grip on sanity as he takes on the persona of the Joker- a clown that represents the rage of Gotham’s citizens at its corrupt and greedy government.
The plot of Joker leaves little to be desired- with several sub-plots, surprise twists, Easter eggs for hardcore fans, and stunning performances- you’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire movie. The nitty-gritty dive into the sometimes all-too-playful superhero genre is a refreshing change of pace that made me want to see more films that push the boundaries of comic book movies.
When watching the movie, one cannot help but notice Phoenix’s brilliant and dedicated performance. Every second of his screen time clearly communicated a mentally unwell sociopath who wonders if it’s him or the world outside that’s slowly getting crazier. In everything from his swaying, idle shuffling to his dedication to the physical appearance of the character, Phoenix gives a satisfying take on the clown prince of crime, finally giving audiences a little-told tale of his origin story.
If you’re a stickler for the comic books, you’ll notice that this rendition of the origin story of Joker is glaringly different from any comic book storyline. Writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver saw this as an opportunity to create something entirely new- to elevate and give depth to a usually mysterious villain in the DC universe. This also gave Phoenix room to make character choices and creatively collaborate with the design team to bring about the final product of the Joker we saw on screen.
So, should you go see Joker? The answer is yes- if not for the quality of the film, at least so you can say you saw the box-office breaking hit. Joker recently beat out Ryan Reynold’s other adult-catered superhero film Deadpool 2 as the number one grossing R-rated movie. Joker is a wild ride, with characters and a plot that will make you wonder if it’s just you- or is it really getting crazier out there?
I would highly recommend seeing this film as Joaquin Phoenix’s rendition of the character is just as entertaining as it is frightening.