The Oh-So-Serious Review- JOKER
The following review may contain spoilers, continue with caution. If you want to know whether or not to see it, the answer is YES. DO IT. DO IT NOW.
"Joker", directed by Todd Phillips, is perhaps the most compelling and successful comic book character study, period. With all of the hype, I went into the theater with little to no expectations, except that Joaquin Phoenix would do an amazing job, like he does in every role he takes on. The film successfully crafts a full and violently intimate origin story for Joker, otherwise known as Arthur Fleck, that takes viewers on a slow and steady descent into madness.
What creates a monster? A combination of mental illness, child abuse, brain damage, a failing healthcare system, and social marginalization? The script does a fantastic job incorporating all of the above. With Joaquin's superb acting combined with a visceral score and Todd's nuanced and detail-oriented directing style, we get perhaps one of the best commercial films of this year.
The film evokes a physical response to Arthur's unsteady and unpredictable moods and nature, leaving you uncomfortable and leaning away from the screen, ready to cover your eyes. Throughout the film, like with modern psycho and sociopaths, the signs are all there, if only someone would listen. When ignored, terrible things may happen.
I liked how they incorporated a small piece of Batman's origin story, tying the two together and bringing us back into the DC universe, without making it about Bruce Wayne. Personally, I felt the film was so brilliant, I may go see it for a second time with a pen and paper to take notes on Todd's choices to better understand why it was so successful.
Now, there was quite a bit of controversy before this film opened about whether or not it would inspire copycats. I could potentially see how the film would embolden someone to act out their violent fantasies. Film's don't make people killers, but they can make people feel more confident. I don't, however, feel that the film made any indication that Joker is the hero of this story, but rather the victim of mental illness and circumstance. There are recorded instances of criminal acting out crimes and referencing the DC villain, which you can easily find by googling. I won't be sharing any of that information, because I believe that immortalizing criminals that commit crimes such as these is part of the appeal for them.
Do you agree? Disagree? What was your experience watching this film? Let me know in the comments below!
Does this foreshadow a much more intimate and character-driven future for superhero films? I sure hope so.