Joker Review—Joaquin Phoenix Is Stupendous In A Disturbing Portrayal of A Hopeless Man In A Hopeless Society
Director: Todd Phillips
Running Time: 2h 2m
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy
*[0-50%-red (poor); 50-70%-yellow (average to good, better and promising); 70-90%-green (very good to great); 90-100%-blue (outstanding to perfect and a masterpiece)]
THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW OF THE FILM
Actor Joaquin Phoenix is known for diving deep into his roles, no matter what film he goes for. But a superhero movie, especially based on DC comics always takes up a different path when it comes to representing the characters. And in director Todd Phillips’ Joker, the actor is, once again, stupendous!
Joaquin portrays a disturbing, hopeless man, in a hopeless society, who thrives on a violent path after getting only humiliation, rejections, and constant denial by a ‘civilized group’ of people. He plays Arthur Fleck, a man who wants to be a comedian in his life. He has a sick mother, Penny (played by Frances Conroy), who he tries to take good care of. And he’s himself on medication due to an illness of laughing uncontrollably when he’s in pain or turmoil inside. However, most people don’t consider that as an illness.
Arthur also keeps imagining things in his head when thinks too much about them when they really hurt him too much. While imagining, several instances take place and also not—which is quite interesting in building up the tension throughout the story.
Joker also stars legendary actor Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, a talk show host of ‘Live With Murray Franklin’, in which he invites famous personalities and makes people laugh with his funny punches.
There’s also Zazie Beetz, playing a woman called Sophie Dumond. Although there’s not much for her when it comes to the plot itself, a big revelation gets ultimately revealed, though, about the Joker, because of her character. So, in that way she fills up the spaces in between.
A still from the movie. (Image Credit: newyorker.com)
Speaking of direction then one thing that Todd Phillips has kept a heavy focus on in this film is the presentation. The cinematography is on point, being spectacularly wowing and impressive to the eyes. There are sadness and the pessimism which can be easily felt within the frames. The director has his own take on the origin story of a man whose very origin is still a mystery even in the comics as well.
Watching this film as a neutral viewer is not possible as it pulls you to a world of total devastation which can be too much to handle for an ordinary person like Arthur who has got nothing to lose after receiving only disappointment in life, since the time of his birth. Yes, this movie is highly gruesome in the second act and ‘bloody darker’ than usual. But you get it from where it starts from at the very beginning.
Joaquin has put his heart and soul into the role of a man who eventually transforms into a madman, following a series of cruelty, hate, and unacceptance by the people in Gotham. Because he himself tries to prove his point during a scene in which he says or tries to convey that a person thinks only about himself without even considering ‘the other’ as a person at all.
A film like Joker always poses a question in front of you as a human and forces you to think about the world around you in an entirely different manner. However, it also leaves you with a choice of deciding what you want to become when you are not able to handle it anymore.
This movie, by no means, encourages violence or chaos—the two very iconic terms related to the clown prince of Gotham. It’s just a perspective of showing what can happen if something is left unseen or unobserved.
And in the end, there will be debates and comparisons in years to come, on who was the best Joker.
Well, here there’s no point of even comparing two unparalleled acts by two genius actors. What Heath Ledger was to the DC supervillain in The Dark Knight, more than a decade ago, is what Joaquin Phoenix is to this everlasting character, who will keep mesmerizing the audiences if there’s another on-screen portrayal in the future.
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the latest comic book movie is now playing in theaters.