Joker (2019) | Film Review
Joker (2019) is a psychological thriller villain-origin film written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver and directed by Todd Phillips. The film had a wide-release in theaters in the United States on October 4, 2019.
The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker and also stars Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz, and Robert De Niro.
The film follows Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who takes care of and lives with his ailing mother while trying his best to become a successful stand-up comedian. Arthur spends his days dressed up as a clown, doing random jobs for businesses and organizations in the local area. After Arthur finds himself at the mercy of several violent, uncaring members of society, he begins to fight back and surprises even himself at the strength that begins to emerge. Unfortunately, with his newfound strength comes a newer, colder, and not entirely sane state of mind and he inadvertently inspires the entire city of Gotham to become unhinged as well.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Crow (1994)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
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* Discussion contains minor spoilers
I would like to start off the discussion by saying how great all the actors were in this film. Despite their obvious and not-so-obvious flaws, I really liked each character and did not want anything bad to happen to any of them. I have always liked the antihero, Joker, and this film was an amazing addition to his backstory.
All of that being said, let's get into the discussion.
The film follows Arthur Fleck as he makes his gradual transition into Joker. At first, we see how badly Arthur is treated by almost everyone in his life. He works for an agency that employs men who dress up as clowns and we see him at a job where he is holding a sign for a business and dancing around. After some time, some teenage boys take his sign and he begins to chase them down. It's not apparent what their goal is other than antagonizing Arthur, but we soon see he has been led into a trap and they beat him badly and destroy the sign they stole from him. It's at this moment that we see how very helpless and weak in mind and character Arthur is and I wondered how he could go from such a weak person to becoming Joker.
We soon discover that Arthur's boss isn't very sympathetic, understanding, or protective of his employees. He simply seems to want his "clowns" to go to work and come back without any problems. Arthur, unsure how to protect himself, accepts a gun from a fellow clown employee and begins to carry it around with him. It isn't long before he uses it on some men who begin to beat him badly on the subway train and afterwards, he begins his slow transition into Joker.
As Arthur begins to learn how to protect himself, he starts to see the world as uncaring, unsympathetic, and cold. He sees that he needs to protect himself because society certainly won't. In this burgeoning madness comes a strength he never knew before, so it's not surprising he begins to accept the madness and finally, at the end of the film, embraces it fully.
My Thoughts on the Film
There is quite a lot of graphic violence towards the end of the film, but I never thought that it was gratuitous. Every murder had meaning and there were many valid and justifiable reasons behind each death.
I really thought the writers did a great job of making sure Arthur Fleck's story was well-rounded and explained in such a way that you never questioned why he was making certain decisions. I completely understood his reasoning and his actions, even when they were hard to witness. I understand why someone who had been abused, belittled, and bullied his whole life would grasp at anything in order to be able to protect themselves. I'm not saying I would make the same decisions, but I loved how everything in the movie was logical and there were no plot holes.
One of the things I haven't really seen discussed in other reviews of this film is how funny it is at times. There is a lot of dark, deadpan humor and I found myself laughing throughout most of the film. Well, not really at the end, because that shit gets dark, dark, dark, but throughout most of the film, yeah. I think that adding that deadpan humor was needed because the film becomes very heartbreaking and frustrating at times.
I really enjoyed Joker (2019). I thought all of the actors did an amazing job and I especially loved watching Joaquin Phoenix in his role. I really loved the film The Dark Knight (2008) as well, and I think both Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix did amazing work as the Joker. I love both movies equally and I really hope that this new film series is just as great as those two films. This film brought out so many emotions in me and it doesn't really fit in just one category, such as psychological thriller. It's heartbreaking, hilarious, frustrating, angering, sad, and exhilarating.
It's a thriller, a drama, an action film, a comedy, a romantic film, and a crime film. So, really there's something for everyone. Well, except kids. Don't take kids to see this, geez, what's wrong with you? You were considering it, weren't you? It was because of the clown, right? Let me tell you, Joker is not Bozo. Not Bozo (that guy kind of scared me as a kid, but I digress). Anyway, do yourself a favor and go watch it (without kids), you won't regret it.