To start this review I need to dispel some rumours I have read online about the Joker. Yes, it is a dark film but I don’t think it’s messed up enough for ‘hundreds of people to walk out of the theatre.’ Yet again these posts over-exaggerate all for the purpose of views, shares etc. I am often very particular about superhero films as they are often cliqued and unrealistic. While normal DC films focus on superhumans and action whereas this film was more of the physiological consequences of real-world actions.
Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely stellar in this role. Physically Phoenix looked normally enough to be relatable but also had a sense of craziness which showed exactly what the role needed. He managed to balance empathy from the order with the chaos of the Joker character. I cannot wait to see Phoenix in other roles as this is a perfect example of acting and will defiantly be used as an example for people wanting to get into acting. However, Leigh gill who played Gary (a vertically challenged friend of Arthur) who witnesses one of the most unsettling scenes in the entire movie. His acting in this scene was a bit off-putting but this is a minor detail that instead of being entertaining was more realistic which was unusual in my opinion.
This film is an incredibly dark and gritting film that follows the life of a young Arthur Fleck and his descent into insanity. But what is very interesting for this film is that the film has humanised the joker character to an almost relatable level. To me, all the other actors who take on this role have tried to make the character as human as possible but this film really topped them all in that regard. The jokers look itself is very normal. He looks like a regular person you would see walking down the street on any given day which the casting team must have considered when giving the role to Joaquin Phoenix as the joker. On top of this, the film is set in the fictional city ‘Gotham’ which while being fictional it is very realistic and shows similarities to any traditional city. This helps again with making the character relatable and believable.
With a focus on the narrative, the story is incredibly logical and realistic which is one of the scariest things about the film. It starts with Arthur’s tortured childhood. He was abused by his step-dead which is the main cause the physiological issues he faces in the film including an uncomfortable laughing condition known as pseudobulbar affect (PBA). This condition causes him to have uncontrollable fits of laughter at inappropriate times which is one of the main reasons he is tormented by people in his city including many people higher on the social ladder.
The abuse and insults he endures through are very serious which causes him to lash out at people and it is only after being beaten down (for the second time in this film) on a train that he starts his killing spread as a way of self-defence. In the early parts of the film, everyone around him is abusive and horrible to him which you can easily see why he started to despise certain people. This chaos becomes focused on the richer people in Gotham which becomes a political movement. Even today we have people complaining and protesting about the 1% and the unfair distribution of wealth. This again makes the character relatable.
I loved that everything in this film was so logical as it makes it appear that things happening in the film could easily happen in real life. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone could easily descend into insanity there have to be some mental issues to start the ‘domino’ of events. This film is very important for awareness of mental health issues and how fragile the mind can be which is such an important thing to be shown on the big screen especially in a period where mental health is such a big issue and so the creators of this film are doing a very important thing for representation of mental health.
This film is the perfect pseudo-prequel to the other batman films as it ‘fills the gaps’ about the Joker character in the other films. The iconic scene that involves biting heaps and heaps of money is out even more into context within the character. Also, the end scenes where blood is spread across his cheeks show the set up to the scarred cheeks the character has in other films.
Overall, the Joker is one of the most impactful and important films I have ever seen that humanised the out there character of Joker while raising awareness of complex mental conditions. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and there is apparently rumoured to be a follow-up film which I already cannot wait to see.