Director: Todd Phillips | Release Date: October 4, 2019
Prized as one of the best films of the year so far and a contender for the 2020 awards season. With a mixed bag of controversy, acclaim, and award chatter thrown in, how could we not jump on this bandwagon?
This review is not going to be an in-depth analysis of every scene in JOKER, rather an appreciation of the intensely creative and brave craftsmanship of the picture as a whole without spoilers.
The debate surrounding this movie has been immense; people are seriously getting well, serious about it (see what we did there?). It wouldn’t exactly be cynical to think that this is a standalone film given its indie vibe and parental guidance rating. However, the film does give away lots of little nuggets that confirm that it is an extension of the DCEU as perhaps an origins film – we won’t spoil anything though.
One thing is certain in our minds that cannot be discredited in any way shape or form. That is the fact that Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely phenomenal. His shattering presentation of the troubled Arthur Fleck/Joker is utterly captivating to watch and showcases Phoenix’s acting talent on a momentous scale. Phoenix immersed himself entirely into the characters physically and emotionally and was able to captivate audience members completely in almost every single scene in the movie without computer graphics or gimmicky plot holes.
Since the Jared Leto depiction of the Joker in Suicide Squad left a lot to be desired, and Heath Ledger’s portrayal is still so (and will remain) legendary. Phoenix had an odd pair of boots to fill. He did not disappoint but in fact, blew us away entirely with his rendition and proved that a superhero movie doesn’t need to stick to the same old formula just to keep the masses happy. It can bend the rules and still perpetuate grand acclaim.
Everything on screen has a valid and vivid part of the storytelling, from the music score to the way a particular scene is lit. Each element of the film becomes a character in its own right and plays a significant role in the story. It is a film that feels and contagiously encapsulates its viewer so they know exactly how to behave emotionally at the right times.
The entire mood of the film is dark and gloomy and looms a seventies-Esque haze which only enhances the torment in which Fleck goes through. There aren’t many scenes that Phoenix doesn’t make an appearance in, thus driving audience attention directly onto him making this film completely character-driven. This incredible depth allows the filmmakers plenty of creative scopes to delve deep into the emotional responses of Fleck/Joker. Without giving away too much, the narrative slowly builds up to the pinnacle point in which we see the evident transformation of a tortured Arthur Fleck become Joker. The careful construction of a wonderland of cause and effect scenarios provoke a deliberate reaction from spectators and emerge us deep into the heart of what the movie is actually about.
A lot of people will resonate with this in many different ways. There is a strong focus on mental health and childhood trauma which understandably will be difficult for some viewers to watch. However, respectfully, this is a fictional character living in a fictional world therefore, the correlation between real life and fantasy must be taken into account before viewing. That being said, the controversy surrounding Joker has been unprecedented. It is no means the first film in history to delve into the complex world of mental health, crime, bullying, trauma or loss but, there must be something about the DC films in particular that drive people to distraction.
Although this movie deals with sensitive topics and is hard-hitting at times, Joker as a whole is a brilliant film. A cinematic force to be reckoned with and one of our favourite films of 2019. It would be nice to see Joker do well at award season next year, especially for Phoenix’s performance if nothing else.
If you can see past the controversy or negative reviews it will be a real treat and an opportunity for you to experience something so unique from anything else that has been released this year. An absolute gem. Five stars from us, this one definitely takes away the gold bunny so at least it can be proud of that even if it doesn’t make the awards voters list!