Friday, October 11, 2019

Movie Review of Joker

Joker Joaquin Phoenix
    Joker Warner Bros.

Dark troubled Joker sends a modern message   

As a fresh interpretation of the origins of DC Comics infamous villain, the Joker, a new movie of the same name has hit the screens all over the world. Let me warn potential viewers - it is not for the faint of heart. This film brutally tackles mental illness, disability, child abuse, bullying, backstabbing, assault, and income inequality. All the issues that are front and center in today's world like never before.

Joaquin Phoenix, as the Joker, transcends the character as well as any of his predecessors. His performance throughout the film is sublime and draws empathy for the anti-hero from the audience despite the darkest paths he takes. Unlike prior movie interpretations of the clown-faced villain, this one starts out with a fairly mild mannered good, albeit mentally unwell, individual named Arthur Fleck. Through a series of unfortunate events and family history revelations, he gradually transforms into an image of a clown, out for justice. In this pursuit of justice he ultimately loses his humanity and becomes the criminal we know as Joker.

How a mild mannered man becomes Joker 

The movie opens up with Arthur Fleck trying to force a smile onto his face, as he prepares for a day of promoting a sale for a store that's going out of business. He is initially bullied and then heavily beaten by teenagers who ridicule his appearance - an example of bullying at its finest. He doesn't lash out, but misfortunes do not end. In his journey to try to make people laugh as an unsuccessful comedian, he is ridiculed, humiliated, and betrayed; all the while taking care of his mother in the poorest neighborhood of Gotham. Meanwhile the city's well off residents belittle its poorest inhabitants, with the city's mayoral candidate Thomas Wayne calling the poor 'clowns'.

The trademark laugh of Joker in this movie is a condition Arthur Fleck suffers from - a random uncontrollable laughter that is not connected to the actual emotions he is experiencing. That condition finally triggers a confrontation with bullies, where he snaps and exacts bloody revenge. But the transformation is still not complete as he sees that encounter to be justice not just for him, but for the city's 'other' poor inhabitants. His sanity is completely shattered and he loses all grip with it, when a series of family history revelations come to pass. Here, his confrontation with a youngster named Bruce Wayne is very well executed by the director Todd Phillips.

Chaos in Gotham 

The movie swings to the city which is now on the brink with protests, using the image of the 'clown' as its mark of resistance by the poorer inhabitants against the better off upper class. There is nothing remaining of the mild mannered and kind Arthur Fleck at this point. Instead, now there is only maniacal homicidal Joker who has no hesitation exacting his brand of 'justice' against those whom he deems to be not good people. In the end, we see fire, rubble, angry men, and Joker as their ringleader. At this point, nobody is safe - no television personality and no rich man.

Joker is a commentary on our current state

Much like with Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards, there is a commentary to be extracted from Todd Phillips' Joker. This movie serves as a warning regarding the problems our country is facing today. After all it was a combination of income inequality, bullying, child abuse, and discrimination that drove well mannered kind man to become the homicidal maniac known as Joker removed from all humanity. It is these very factors that we see on the rise in our country today. And unless we address them and get in touch with our humanity, our cities risk suffering the same fate as Gotham.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics have given this movie a passing grade of 68% approval, while Metacritic has given it a borderline score of 59 so far. Respectfully, I see it differently. Joker is a movie worthy of praise, as it discovers a hauntingly plausible origin story of one of the most iconic Comic book villains, while sending a real life message to its audience regarding the kind of treatment a man receives that can drive him to such savagery. While there are certainly things that could have been better, this movie is worthy of having to purchase a movie ticket and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Until next time, grab your popcorn, milk duds, turn off the phone, and enjoy the movie.

30 comments:

  1. I Hadn't heard of this yet! It sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is great, when you're looking for a comic villain origin story with an embedded social commentary of our time.

      Delete
  2. I am DYING TO SEE THIS MOVIE!!! haha It looks so good

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ashli, this is a movie that won't disappoint, if you're looking for a deep psychological journey with a distinct social commentary of our time.

      Delete
  3. Great review. This is my type of movie so I will definitely watch it. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Slavica, you won't be disappointed - Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal in his portrayal of a good man driven into a downward spiral into madness.

      Delete
  4. I heard that people walked out of the theatre, so it's nice to know that it isn't all that bad. Thanks for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Serena, it is rather dark and deeply psychologically disturbing. A couple brought their kids to see this movie - not a great idea. This is a grown up comic book film with a distinct social message.

      Delete
  5. I had to skip reading the review because I am going to watch this movie next week and I don't want any spoilers. I did hear that it is very good so I can't wait to watch it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a very dark and psychologically involved movie that draws you in and makes you feel for the anti-hero. Part of the social message is that being mean and inflicting abuse can drive the good people into becoming criminals. The other part is the inequality in our society that creates the aura that makes the above possible.

      Delete
  6. I like how they portray Joker in the movies (even the previous ones)- it really shows his true personality not just the psycho that they portray on TV. I though this was going to be a failure to be honest but when I watched it, it actually made me cry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Polly, I did shed a tear as well. Just the fact the movie Joker is so close to real life in terms of bullying, inequality, and turning good people into those who seek their own brand of justice, turning them into criminals.

      Delete
  7. I didn't realize that the movie had such a human side to the Joker--seeing his mental illness and all the contributed to his current state. Plan to go see!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristin, it is a very poignant portrayal of victimization that leads to madness. It is a terrific movie, where Joker is a sympathetic being up until he transforms completely. It is rare that a film can draw such sympathy from me for the anti-hero. Yet here we are.

      Delete
  8. I haven't watched the film yet but upon reading your blog I think I will watch it this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to be of service. Definitely keep in mind, it is an origins movie and kind of sad in many ways. But truly a warning to the current generation with a distinct social commentary.

      Delete
  9. I really want to see the Harley Quinn movie but I really want to see the Joker. He is a very interesting character! What is your favorite portrayal of the character? I always love Mark Hamil's potrayal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aisasami, the Joker here is portrayed like never before. I will be honest, I like this origins story better than all the prior attempts by DC Comics. I'm kind of torn. I really enjoyed Heath Ledger as the Joker and the origins there were good too - if we believe any of Heath Ledger versions he recites. But, Joaquin Phoenix has given the villain a more humane origin, tugging at the audience's nerves to feel for him. And that is the true mastery in Cinema.

      Delete
  10. Seems a great movie. Going to watch next week

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amelia, definitely check it out. It is worth the price of admission, if you enjoy psychological journey in your movies and Comic Book origin stories.

      Delete
  11. I have mixed feeling on whether I want to see this movie or not but I appreciate the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Danielle, it all depends on what kind of movies you like. Some people I know don't want the stress or the weight of a psychological transformation journeys. But if you like the psychological aspect, then this is the movie for you.

      Delete
  12. I have also read that people walked out of the theatre, but many time I like what others don't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mila, it is very psychologically taxing movie that disappoints people who expect it to be another Comic Book origins story. But if you enjoy the mind bending transformation of a kind man into a villain and have a strong psyche, then this is the movie for you.

      Delete
  13. I've been looking forward to watching this movie. Thanks for the detailed review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please go and enjoy it. The movie is carried by Joaquin Phoenix, whom I expect to get an Oscar nomination for this. It is now my top origin version for Joker.

      Delete
  14. Thanks for the review. I'm looking forward to checking the movie out soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adi, enjoy the movie, it is quite the Joker origins wild ride with very deep psychological message.

      Delete
  15. Hey,
    That sounds awesome. It really looks nice and the information mentioned in the post is really good.

    Thanks
    Aashirvad Kumar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aashirvad, I'm glad you found the review useful. It is quite an entertaining movie and I recommend it.

      Delete

Follow by Email