Opinion | “Joker” Review


Image courtesy of DC Films.


RATE: 8.5/10 

Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips take on the Joker’s origin story is something many people were anticipating, but not how they expected. Director Todd Phillips takes a dark introspective look at the Joker, taking a great amount of inspiration from Martin Scorsese’s film “Taxi Driver.” A movie considered to be one of Scorsese’s best ever. Both are personal narratives based on a loner in a big city and how they deal with their loneliness.

In the beginning of the movie, we open to a broken and sad Arthur Fleck putting on his make up for his job as a clown. Music plays as the camera pulls in and out, focusing on Arthur as his makeup runs down his face from his tears, obviously in pain. The camera pans and we are introduced to the rest of his co-workers who start to tear him down. At this point, the viewer gets a glimpse of how the world treats Arthur, as a freak. As we follow Arthur throughout the movie, we pick up on this theme. Arthur does his best to act like the jokes and beatdowns don’t affect him, but the viewers can see the effect it has on him mentally. Arthur begins his slow and steady transition into the Joker we know.

One of the most gripping narratives of the story is that of Arthur’s mother, Penny Fleck. In the beginning, we see her as a loving, kind mother who Arthur takes great care of. Someone who we think wouldn’t hurt a fly. As her truth is unraveled through the story, we find that this isn’t true. In fact, we learn that she was a patient in Arkham Mental Hospital for delusions and child abuse. Todd Phillips has many small and unexpected twists and turns like this throughout the movie that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and engaged through the movie’s two-hour runtime.

Joaquin Phoenix gives a captivating performance as Joker and seems extremely invested and tapped into life as Arthur Fleck. Phoenix offers a look at the Joker in a way we’ve never seen before. Instead of a genius mob boss, we see a vulnerable character that we can empathize with and feel for. A joker who we can’t necessarily understand, but one that makes sense in modern society. Heath Ledger’s legendary performance in “The Dark Knight”  as the Joker is not topped in my opinion, yet I do find a special place in my heart for Phoenix’s portrayal. 

Arthur starts as a character that you feel bad for in this movie, something I’ve never experienced in a movie with the Joker. Phoenix’s acting is what makes you feel this way with the raw emotion and effort you see in the character. Overall, I would not be surprised if Phoenix’s character earns him an Oscar nomination in this year’s Academy Awards.

Looking back at this movie, I’ve come to the conclusion that this could be the new blueprint for future superhero/villain movies. The gritty, dark and introspective look at these comic book characters seems like the natural progression for the genre to continue to produce box-office hits. 

All in all, this innovative take on the Joker is definitely one of the top movies I’ve seen this year. Todd Phillips surprises us, yet again proving himself as one of the most versatile directors working right now,  that he also served as the Creator and Director of “The Hangover” series in the mid-2000s. 

Once again, Joaquin Phoenix shows why he is credited as being one of the greatest actors of this generation in “Joker.” Together the two have created a masterpiece that is in the running for film of the year by many critics and moviegoers alike.