Joker carries a dark undertone and turns it into a seething roar. Going into this film its impossible to not to know anything. The Joker is an iconic bad guy character in a time where comic book movies reign supreme and while I love a good comic book movie, after over a decade of this popular trope, I have to admit it is getting repetitive. From the opening few second of the film, Joker lets you know that
this is not going to be another comic book entry.
From its breathtaking cinematography and colour scheme to its unnerving ambient soundtrack this film drags you kicking and screaming into an intimate character study that you cant stop watching. Joaquin Phoenix portrays Arthur Fleck, a damaged and broken 30 something year old, living in the grime of Gotham City caring for his mother. This truly is a defining point in Joaquins career as an actor and possibly his best performance. The adolescent demeanor of Arthur is not only disarming and creepy at times but it allows the character to almost observe his own descent into madness with a child like curiosity.
Arthurs PTSD and Chronic Laughter condition have stopped him from being able to integrate into the world around him and as a result is bullied and taken advantage of constantly. This is the most grounded and realistic view that the character has ever been given and perhaps why it is so hard to watch. For much of the movie I found myself sinking into my seat because it felt like I was being abused to. We know we're watching the birth of a villain so the film doesn't seek to make you relate with him, but more with his circumstance.
There's no one liners here. The violence in Joker has been a subject of contention in certain circles and to a certain extent I do understand why. It's shown graphically and in its entirety. BUT so is the violence in any modern horror or shoot'em up film. but people don't have a problem with them. The film doesnt sugar coat or gloss over any onscreen violence and its that level of shock horror and realism that sets it aside from any other comic book film. I for one agree that the violence is almost too much to watch, even though there is actually very little of it compared to movies like Avengers or John Wick. But that's because it's meant to make you uncomfortable. As a society we're fine with watching violence when its good guys against bad guys, But when your lead character is a bad guy the violence is confusing. It causes the audience to ask themselves if they still feel bad for Arthur. We know what he's doing is wrong but we still understand his journey. This is the point where
Joker crosses over from being a movie, into being ART.
Joker is a complete story, from start to finish. While the studio could easily milk a sequel out of this, and no doubt they will try, The film stands alone as a perfect piece of cinema that needs nothing more. If you're looking for a comic book movie you wont find one here. I'd recommend those viewing it to approach it as a stand alone art house film that looks into the breakdown of the human mind under traumatic circumstances in a fictional dystopian society. In the same way that Mother! (2017) was a horrific and graphic artistic portrayal of the rape of our earth.
Joaquins performance is captivating to say the least.
This performance of a life time deserves to be viewed as nothing less and I cant think of another this year that's any more deserving of an Oscar. As far as cinema goes this film is a perfect example of a winning collaboration between soundtrack, cinematography, directing and acting. For me its a breath of fresh air in the realm of Comic book films and while I don't want them all to be this dark I hope it at least rattles the cage of a dangerously comfortable genre. If I were to place a trigger warning on the film I would mention that the film looks at this Joker through the lens of someone dealing with severe mental health issues as opposed to past Jokers that have leaned heavily into the safety implied drug abuse.
Jordan Rating 9/10