WHAT'S IT ABOUT

“Joker” centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.

What did we think

  1. Peter Linning September 27, 2019

    Joker is the best film I've seen this year, and I believe it will fundamentally change the public perception of comic books as source material for movies. This is a slow-burning character study, a movie that holds you in uncomfortable moments like a hug that goes on just too long. Joker's world isn't one of capes and masks, it's the filthy and corrupt New York of Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

    The story itself is one of betrayal, rejection, and revenge, and contains some incredibly pertinent commentary on the stigmas surrounding mental illness without ever being too on the nose. The supporting cast is sparingly used but excellent, with special mention going to Robert De Niro, looking more switched on than he has in years. The movie belongs to Phoenix, however, and he owns the screen in a way few actors are capable of. He's an awkward creature of raw, suppressed emotion, taking you right up to the line of identifying with his pain, without ever becoming truly sympathetic.

    The art direction and score are outstanding, and Todd Philips' direction is purposeful as it is beautiful. The slow pace and focus on character development are what make it such an unusual and incredible movie, yet I'm afraid these very elements will be what it will draw the most criticism for. Anyone expecting a supervillain origin story runs the risk of being upset that they were tricked into seeing an arthouse film, and I've no doubt that there'll be manufactured controversy about the movie's disturbing tone, but if that's what it takes to expand the scope of what the comic book medium then I'm all for it.

    5 Stars

  2. Anthony Sherratt September 27, 2019

    GOOD: Joaquin Phoenix should start writing his Oscar acceptance speech; lovely ambiguity and some unexpected layering; some long, lingering shots that add to characterisation wonderfully; unsettling in the good, thought-provoking way; a good message about how actions can be twisted for others with their own agendas.

    BAD: there is a level of victimhood for the mentally unwell; some long, lingering shots that ham-fistedly belabour some points; a mostly predictable third act that moves in slow motion (figuratively) once the protagonist’s plans become obvious.

    Is it a good movie? Yes. Will you want to watch it again? Probably not. Will it actually encourage violence as some are claiming? The disenfranchised will always find a reason to justify their actions which, oddly enough, is one of the points this movie makes.

    4/5

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