Joker Review

Joker is a dark look at society’s ignorance of the mentally ill and one of the must watch movies of the year.

Score: 5 / 5

Comic book inspired movies for well over a decade now have been looking to be taken seriously not as just blockbusters but as art with more to tell then good versus evil. In all that time I can count the amount of films that deserve that recognition with two fingers. After the Joker I can say it’s up to three.

When it was announced that Director/writer Todd Phillips was making a Joker standalone movie my first thought was this would not work. How can you make a movie around a monster like that? It would feel dark in a way that doesn’t sit right with you. Well that’s exactly what the Joker is, but it’s in the way it’s told and by the masterful performance by Joaquin Phoenix that makes this a movie you can’t not watch.

Joker is about a mentally ill man named Arthur Fleck (played by Phoenix). Raised in a terrible environment all he wants is to make people laugh, to be a comedian. Throughout Joker Arthur comes to learn more about his past and is pushed by society to the point of suffocation. He is a mental powder keg that is just waiting for that one day that pushes him too far. If you have never seen a comic book movie or read a comic book, you’d still have no problem at all taking in this movie.

Once again Joaquin Phoenix is an artist at the highest level, delivering another performance that keeps you drawn to the screen. You can feel the constant battles going on in Arthur’s head, the pain that he can’t lessen, and the disturbing satisfaction he finds when he accepts what he believes is his purpose in the world. This is awards winning material here that I would be shocked does not get nominations at all the big end of year shows. Along with Phoenix is an excellent cast of supporting characters that never outshine the lead but compliment the energy he is firing off in all directions.

To complete this haunting tale is the combination of excellent cinematography and a score that perfectly captures the serious dark dance that is on display. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher’s shots rest on moments of Arthur fixated in some mental loop, while Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score builds the tension of the explosion that is bound to happen one way or another. Warner Bros wiliness to let a filmmaking team create such a disturbing tale on a character that could just be used for selling toys is bold and truly separates them from the Disney empire that is looking to consume the entire industry. The film landscape needs movies like these just as it does empty entertainment ones.

Joker is a no holding back look at a mentally unstable man that society tossed aside. It’s a chilling look at how we treat the mentally ill and the general lack of understanding or attempt at compassion. It’s a fictional example that in our real world we should be discussing mental illness, we should be doing more. Joker is a must see for that reason alone but add in that it is actually a well-crafted work of art just adds to the need that for a movie fan this is a must watch.

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