When you have a bad day – or maybe a series of bad days – what is your go-to coping mechanism? Perhaps you like to take a jog and sweat out the negative emotions. Perhaps it’s a hot bath and some chamomile tea. We all have devices that we find helpful when we are feeling down. But what if there were people out there that could not deal with their emotions in a healthy, positive way? What if there are people out there that are one bad day away from never being the same?
Joker – directed by Todd Phillips – is a movie about a man whose life is one long bad day. Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is a troubled individual that is dependent on a city that is failing him – and others like him. Gotham is frail. The economy is rough, the city is dirty and full of crime, and nobody seems capable of fixing it. Normally, this is where we would see the beginnings of a heroic Batman origin story, but that is not what Joker is about. It’s about the origin of the bad guy.
You will grieve for him in the first half, and you will be afraid of him for the rest of the film.
Joker is a great film and there are a lot of things to like about it, starting with the front man, Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin does a fabulous job transforming Arthur from a struggling patient trying to make his way in the world, to a madman who hates the world. From his physical appearance – the way he contorts his body, and the expressions his face – to the very sound of his voice, Phoenix is on fire through this whole movie. You will grieve for him in the first half, and you will be afraid of him for the rest of the film.
Todd Phillips really does a great job pacing Joker and making sure that every shot counted. Nothing seemed out of place to me, and even though some plot points were a little bit predictable, I really enjoyed every transition, twist and turn. The supporting cast was amazing as well. Zazie Beetz and Robert De Niro were nothing short of phenomenal in their roles. Do not get me started with the soundtrack and score of this film – it’s just ridiculously good at setting the mood.
There is a lot of violence and adult themes that make it very uncomfortable to watch at times – but that is kind of the point.
You might ask yourself at this point: wow, sounds like Branson is selling this movie really hard – was there nothing to dislike about this movie? Well, that depends. I personally did not have any complaints leaving Joker. However, I have warned a lot of people to be careful with their expectations going into this movie. This is not a Batman movie, and this is not a kid’s movie. There is a lot of violence and adult themes that make it very uncomfortable to watch at times – but that is kind of the point. It has a message and it serves it well.
I would highly recommend everyone go see Joker while it is still in theaters. I feel like it won’t be the same on your TV at home. It is intense. It is heartbreaking. It is simply a masterpiece of the comic book genre. I will be surprised if Joaquin Phoenix does not get at least a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards this year. And with that, I want to wish everyone a happy Friday…and don’t forget to put on your happy face.
Noob Rating: 4.5/5
Branson Greer | Senior Movie Noob