Why so serious?
Fifteen years ago Joaquin Phoenix turned into a bear now he’s turned into a clown. This year DC has surprisingly made two superhero movies that weren’t just good but really good. Those being Shazam! and today’s review Joker. Joker is probably the most grounded comic book movie I’ve ever seen. I will admit it is at times unpleasant to watch but it’s expected when your main character is a villain.
The biggest highlight of this movie of course is Arthur Fleck better known as the Joker played wonderfully by Joaquin Phoenix. He’s kind of like Heath Ledger but still feels like its own character. What makes him really great is that while you want to feel sorry for him you remember that this is the Joker. This movie managed to balance both sympathetic and psychotic wonderfully. I think he’s a shoe in for a Best Actor nominee.
Joker also has a lot more deeper themes compared to the other DC movies. Spoilers: I think the deep themes of this whole movie can be summed up in Arthur’s last joke before he shoots Frank Murry. “What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society who abandons him and treats him like trash? You get what you @#%$% deserve!” Arthur Fleck embodies the consequences of a cruel society that hurts mentally ill people. Every character that was cruel to him ends up punished for it. There’s also the theme of how we make our own villains. Ironically Arthur would end up creating his arch enemy Batman through his influence.
Joker was directed by Todd Phillips who’s known for The Hangover trilogy and this movie has terrific directing thanks to him. The shots are really well filmed and help make this version of Gotham one of the best looking ones since Tim Burton’s Batman. I also really like Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score. Most of the score is done with a violin and it is both beautiful but also very creepy and uncomfortable at the same time. I think it would’ve been a fun idea to promote the movie if the bathroom dance music played in the movie theater bathrooms.
Honestly this didn’t have to have anything to do with DC. You could’ve just made this an original story with original characters and nothing would have changed except maybe the stuff involving Batman. What could’ve been another failed attempt to bring Joker to the big screen (looking at you Jared Leto) turned into a deep look at society and mental illness. Joker For a movie about a clown this appropriately not funny.
+ Heavy themes
+ Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score
+ Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur
+ The directing
– Unpleasant at times