Phoenix walks tight-rope of sanity as 'Joker'

October 8, 2019



Joker is a film that has been in the headlines recently in an overwhelmingly negative way, despite the controversy the film has become a critical box office success, and I can see why.


The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian that faces a series of unfortunate events.


This soon led him down a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City. Phoenix’s performance as the titular Joker was captivating and haunting at the same time.


This was aided by the great supporting actors such as Robert DeNiro, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, and Zazie Beetz.


This movie feels like it’s going to be polarizing in the eyes of the general public.


I don’t think there’s going to be a general consensus on whether this is a “good” or “bad” movie. Regardless it is such an interesting watch. 


From the very first scene up till the last, Joker is a dark movie. Arthur Fleck goes through one event after another that would break any person with a true grasp on reality.


Even more so for this man, who is walking the tightrope of sanity.


There were points in the movie where the rest of the theater had a couple of chuckles, but it never sat right with me to laugh at the “comedic” sections as they were layered in such misery and dread.


The plot of the film, without giving too much away, is about Fleck accidentally starting and later embracing a political movement directly opposing Thomas Wayne played by Brett Cullen, a billionaire philanthropist running for mayor of Gotham City.


The movie echoes the political protests throughout the most recent Presidential election, and that’s what makes it even more realistic.


That’s where I could begin to see the controversy come into play. I wanted to wait to see the film before judging it.


I felt like people were critiquing it too harshly, having not seen the film. The controversy began before the film even came out. 


However, having seen it, I now think some of the criticism is justified. I really feel that the movie feeds the male ego to some extent.


At some points I even felt myself empathizing with Phoenix’s character. 


It’s a very specific story that hits the same points that many regular people face.


Getting knocked down by life at every turn, discovering secrets that directly change everything you’ve ever known about yourself, and even learning that something isn’t what it seems.


Putting controversy aside, the film is shot extremely well.


There is a stark contrast between the bright colors that the clown wears and the dark subject matter of the man wearing it. The score was great for the most part.


There was one song that stood out like a sore thumb and really took me out of the experience. 


I do think the script could have used another round of rewrites, especially some of the scenes between Fleck and his mother Penny played by Frances Conroy.


Their interactions become an integral part of the story, so more thought should have been put into them.


Overall, I think that everyone should watch Joker at least once. Just to experience the drama and despair that the movie is trying to emulate, because I loved it.


I give this movie a 4 and a half out of 5 stars.

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