Joker Movie Review
Directed and produced by Todd Phillips, Joker is based loosely on DC Comics characters with Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. This is not a movie for all the family unlike the bottomless pit of blockbusters coming from the Marvel franchise. While the setting is crime-ridden Gotham City and the Wayne family are a powerful family, this is where the Batman angle begins and ends. What we really see is a harrowing portrait of mental illness and the making of a supervillain.
Arthur Fleck [Joaquin Phoenix] hasn’t much to joke about. Living in poverty with his needy mother, Fleck is a jobbing clown by day and wannabe stand-up comedian by night. The resulting 2 hours charts his transformation from sad case to extremely mad case with psychosis and a few nasty murders thrown in. One hour into this two-hour film, I found myself looking at my watch because the set-up was slow but boy was he skinny. I sat uncomfortably at the edge of my seat for the very pacey second hour. It blends the gritty social commentary of Taxi Driver with The King of Comedy’s Rupert Pupkin’s cringe factor. Robert de Niro plays a cameo-esque role as talk show host who brings Fleck, now wanting to be called simply ‘Joker’, onto his live TV show with fairly catastrophic results and further down the rabbit hole he goes.
It’s an uncomfortable two hours but the camera work is exquisite. We can’t but believe Joaquin Phoenix’s performance but don’t expect any laughs as the title suggests.
4 stars from me, loses 1 star for clunky opening.
Theatre was my first love. It all started with the One-Act and 3-Act AmDram festivals in our local theatre to get out of the house to smoke cigarettes on school nights. It wasn’t long before I had graduated onto the Class As in the Abbey, Peacock, Project, Tivoli and even more fringe events and locations. It’s physical. Being present with the cast, the crew, the soundscape of mutters, coughs, and gasps from the audience; the dust, the set, the murmur murmur hum before curtain. Pure energy. I can forgive anything — set, direction, costumes, props, performance — except bad writing.
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