Joker - Movie Review

Joker wad directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a man who feels abandoned by everyone around him, he points people towards offers and deals clown dressed, he lives in a rotten flat with a sick mom, he's often get hit and punked in the streets and because of all this, his world slowly begins to fall down apart and finds himself being pushed for mad violence.

The Joker is one of the best comic book villains, but in films past as you know, whenever that character was involved in the movie, Batman was also there, so there was a good and evil presence now we're just focusing on this person and his origin, at first I was a little averse to that because I loved the idea of the Joker not really having an origin, I loved him being a constant, the idea that he has just always been this way and his past is so murky that he's even more terrifying, Nolan understood that pretty well with his Dark Knight film, but that's not to say that origin has never been explored in comics before, so I opened myself up to this idea and I loved this film. 

I think The Joker was wonderful, Joaquin Phoenix in particular is mesmerizing, everything I had heard about his performance is true and yet he somehow still surprised me, the film leans very heavily into this being a character that is downtrodden in life, you do feel sympathy for him because you understand just how shitty his life has been, based off of this portrayal and that could be dangerous, you could fall into being a bit sappy or syrupy you know, asking for too much sentimentality for this guy making you feel sorry for him constantly, but Joaquin Phoenix and his performance treads that line really beautifully, because even when you feel like damn, I feel bad for you because your life is that bad, you also see this brewing darkness behind his eyes, where you no longer feel bad for him you actually are getting scared of this guy, it is a very realistic and probable portrayal of how somebody might become somebody like the Joker, you understand why he decides to choose a life of crime over anything else because life has never really given him something else to live for, and just when he thought there could be no other Joker laugh or another take at this laugh, Phoenix once again surprises with something that feels painful, like there are times where he's laughing and then you can tell that his throat catches, he starts coughing and he holds his chest like laughing this hard is actually physically painful for him, I thought that was brilliant, such a great idea.

I'm not gonna get into the compare game because that's just pointless, but this is definitely able to stand side by side with what Ledger did. Ledger is iconic and that performance will never be outdone in my opinion, but what Phoenix does here is whole his own, it feels unique to him, it feels like something only he could do, his work as Joker is fierce and ferocious, he nails the screen every single time he's in a frame, which thankfully is quite often.

It's also really well shot, the cinematography, the color palette, beautiful movie, doesn't feel like a comic book film, it feels like a drama because it is a drama, I wouldn't even really call this a thriller, this is absolutely a character study and its inspirations are very obvious, if you've seen any of Scorsese's films  King Of Comedy and Taxi Driver, I mean they've cast Robert De Niro as a talk show host in this movie and I don't think that was a mistake, that is one of my biggest issues with the movie, it is very inspired by the blueprint taxi driver, there are key visuals in the film that feel like they are taken from taxi driver, there are direct visual nods and hints to Taxi Driver and King Of Comedy, there is just a little bit too much of that, it's not that this film doesn't feel like its own thing and it's not like the movie is a copy and paste or anything, it's certainly its own film breathe to life wonderfully by what Joaquin Phoenix is doing on screen, but you can't escape the fact that it is absolutely inspired by those films that came before it, which all films are inspired by something obviously, it's just that in the case of this movie it's a little more obvious.

One of the biggest challenges with a film like this is taking a character who is turning towards evil and having him be the protagonist, how do you carry a character like this throughout the whole movie without having that good person like Batman to come and save the day, but I think at the same time the lack of a heroic character is what makes this film special because it makes the audience ask some hard questions, questions like are part of creating Joker as a society the fact that a comic book movie is asking harsh questions like this is really great.

the score also is super haunting and really chilling, it's minimal to the point where it doesn't feel like it's overstaying, it's welcome it never feels like it's becoming more than what it should be, it just feels like that great addition to some of the more creepy scenes that really help you feel that this guy is slowly becoming unhinged.

some people have addressed concerns that this film perhaps glorifies violence or condones violence or makes you feel sympathy for this character and makes you understand and even side with him when he does horrible things, those are valid concerns and I understand those concerns, the problem that I have with them is that is the Joker character, mass murderer sociopath, what to expect, and it's way less violent than some classic movies.

So with Joaquin Phoenix's excellent performance, Todd Phillips and his sure hand behind the camera, the gorgeous cinematography, the great score, this is a really good movie, I think this is the best version of a Joker origin story we could have gotten in a film, it doesn't follow everything about the comics and that's fine, I like that it takes liberties, all good adaptations should not follow the source material to such scrutiny. 


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