Movie Review: Joker

Joker receives 37/50 rating

First teased last April, the film “Joker has since been surrounded by extreme curiosity from movie enthusiasts. The movie serves as an origin story for the classic Batman villain, following a failed stand-up comedian who turns to crime after being crushed by society. Director Todd Phillip describes the film as a “psychological thriller”, emphasizing the unstable, delusional cognitive state of its internal character. Inspired by past “Joker” performances such as the glorified Heath Ledger representation in The Dark Knight, actor Joaquin Phoenix approached the role in a refreshing yet gloomy form.   

The film is swift to introduce the unsettling tension that continues throughout the entire plot. In the first scene, viewers are introduced to Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) menacingly forcing  a smile and frown through the motion of his fingers, all while crying. As the movie progresses, an eerie sense of Arthur’s declining mental stability escalates due to failure in his job, inability to achieve a love life and rejection from his own family. Eventually, he develops into the recognizable Joker, terrorizing people and inspiring riots in Gotham City.  

Although the storyline may seem easy to follow, Arthur’s psychological state alters the direction in which the plot pursues. With only a mother that has a disreputable past as his company, he trails towards a relationship with Sophie Dumond (played by actress Zazi Beetz). We later learn the bond Arthur created with this woman is only a figment of his imagination. His hallucinations contribute to the ominous mood, which is continually intensified with the combination of his violent actions. 

Since the movie is centered around Arthur, the development of other characters becomes a shortcoming. Throughout the process of Arthur transforming into the Joker, surrounding characters become less significant. However, this may be portrayed with intention to signify how deserted Arthur is from start to finish. 

He experiences bullying and humiliation, a very prominent form of harassment throughout the country today. Once Arthur stops taking his medication and is given a handgun, the audience’s fear of his upcoming actions become increasingly dire. This sequence of events is all too familiar, especially in America where gun control and mass shootings continue to be a major issue. 

The climax of the movie involves the murder of TV talkshow host Murray Franklin (played by Robert De Niro) on live television. Leading up to the homicide, the Joker passionately shares his personal experience and opinions on the community as a whole. He discusses how the poor are mistreated while the wealthy are oblivious to the surrounding societies’ anguish. Riots in Gotham are then commenced with the main motive of assassinating wealthy individuals, all in the fault of the Joker’s actions. 

Joker” may be the most controversial film to be released within the past few years, due to the violent scenes depicted which are incomparable to any other movie genre. In standard horror or action genres, these scenes are usually predictable. The Joker’s actions are unpredictable throughout the movie, and his lashes of anger through violence paint an accurate depiction to real-world incidents. On opening night, security across the nation was increased in theatres; some cinemas even refused to show the film. 

The recommendation to watch this movie should come with caution. The film covers topics that may be insufferable to some viewers. “Joker” certainly isn’t a “family friendly” movie, but watching it alone is not advisable either. Audience and critic opinions vastly differ, but overall, expect an unpleasant but oddly favorable reaction to this film.