I think ‘Joker’ is going to be my film of the year. Read my review of this absolute masterpiece. (Contains spoilers!)
When I went to see ‘Joker’, I was expecting a good film. While the trailer left me curious but not excited, the reviews had elevated my expectations. That said, I was still skeptical; it is a DC film, after all. Thanks to the onslaught of boring, incoherent films in the hot mess that is the DCEU, I went into this film with my analysis hat on.
We first see the protagonist in his pre-Joker form of Arthur Fleck. He, like many of the underbelly of Gotham, is struggling to support himself financially and has a pretty crappy job of being a for-hire clown. We also see that he is looking after his mother, with whom he shares a tiny apartment. These burdens, coupled with his several mental conditions, undoubtedly make it hard not to feel sorry for him and to see Arthur as the victim.
And that’s exactly what this film does. It sheds the light on the dark side of Gotham city. Unlike in 2008’s ‘The Dark Knight’, where the criminals of Gotham city are the scum and Bruce Wayne and the justice system are the city’s saviours, ‘Joker’ displays the eye-opening truth that it’s those in power who take away the services and the resources needed by the many citizens who aren’t one of ‘the elite’. Cutting funding to mental health services and access to medication is one of the largest factors in Arthur’s freefall into insanity. The scariest part is that this is one of the biggest threats to society in the real-world, and a massive problem that is happening right now.
Now, anyone can make a film or a TV show that has a villain who is evil because of mental health issues, but not anyone can deliver a performance as brilliant as Joaquin Phoenix. I was absolutely blown away by Phoenix’s performance in this film. It’s rare that I see a performance so good that I leave the cinema believing that they deserve an Oscar. This is one of those rare cases. Thanks to brilliant writing and fantastic direction, Joaquin Phoenix creates such a convincing character that without knowing it was based on a comic book, I would have thought this was a biopic.
Absolutely nothing about Phoenix’s performance was weak. I am struggling to be critical here because he blew my analysis hat right off my head. For that reason, I must now turn my attention to some of the other aspects of the film.
Robert De Niro is a fantastic actor. He was wasted in this film. I don’t think the part was well-written for him and I wasn’t convinced that he was a late-night host. The one good thing I will say about his performance in this film, though, was his final seen when he is arguing face-to-face with Joker. He provided the perfect platform for Joker to spring off of and was a reflection of the high-and-mighty rich-list of Gotham.
Other than that, nothing really stuck out as a bad point for me. The cinematography was absolutely beautiful and is easily in my top three reasons why I would watch it again. The writing was very solid (apart from the aforementioned De Niro bit) and had a couple of twists that worked well. The only other problem I have with this film is Joker’s final kill. Not many people die in this film and each one is meaningful – apart from the very last one. Now, personally, I loved this film so much that I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was director Todd Phillips’ way of showing that Arthur Fleck had finally become the cold-blooded Joker we all love to hate. However, I think it was unnecessary and the film would have been just as powerful (if not more) without it.
Finally, I’d like to respect the soundtrack of this masterpiece. Music is often overlooked in the entertainment world. Especially when it comes to scores for films and TV shows. This one was absolutely amazing. It blew me away and I think that it’s actually superior to ‘The Dark Knight’.
I know that’s the second comparison I’ve made to that film, but I’m using it because it’s the closest reference I have. They are both dark, well-written, well-directed, well-acted DC comics films. They both show very different sides to the Joker, but neither detract from the other.
I cannot recommend this film enough. Go and see it. In fact, I think I’m gonna go and see it again.
Featured image Copyright Warner Bros.