Movies for Breakfast JOKER Review

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This isn’t your normal comic book movie, and it is a very refreshing feeling.

Synopsis

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”.

Review

Joker has finally released, a movie following the origins of the titular batman villain. Joker is a new take on the villain that doesn’t come from any previously written comics. The movie is completely original, written and direct by Todd Phillips who previously worked on The Hangover trilogy. Being a self-contained story separate from the rest of the DC continuity, the film takes a new look at the psychological clown who terrorizes Gotham. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck aka Joker, Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin a late-night television show host, and Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumon a neighbor to Arthur Fleck.

While the film is categorized as a comic book and superhero movie, it isn’t either of those things. It is a dark look into the origins of a psychotic person living in a terrible city, where terrible things constantly happen to him. Arthur Fleck is a struggling adult who lives with his mom, that wants to be happy, but the world he lives in just won’t let it happen. He works as a clown for various events and occasions, and on the side works towards being a stand-up comedian. Along the way though he never gets anything he wants, and everything seems to be pushing him down. It isn’t just him though, the entire city is filled with people just like him that are also down on their luck, who are living in a city literally covered in trash, who have had enough. Unlike the rest of the people living in Gotham, Arthur also suffers from multiple disorders, one of which causes him to laugh at inappropriate times, with the inability to stop. This mixed with everything else makes things entirely tough on Arthur, but he continues to act in ways that make things worse for him.

Everything about Joker just feels disturbing, every scene finds a new way to make the audience cringe or feel depressing. It makes it so anytime something seems to be going right, to feel eerie and a sense of dread to come almost like a jump scare. The film does not tell a happy story in the slightest and does whatever it can to take away any sense of joy from the characters lives. On top of this the main character constantly goes through delusions and gets stuck in stories in his head, which make it hard to keep track of what is real and what isn’t in the movie. In order to cope with the world around him, Arthur constantly imagines brighter times, and events, only to be brought back to an even harsher reality. While promoting Joker, writer and director Todd Phillips said one of the films he took inspiration from was Taxi Driver, and it is very clear what he meant by that when the movie is finished. It is the kind of movie that will be watched multiple times and people will debate on what events were real and which weren’t, as there is a sense of ambiguity that feels refreshing. While some parts of Arthurs psyche are laid out and explained a little too much, enough of it is left as a mystery to keep the true nature of the villain from the comics in place in this movie.

With the story being a highlight of this movie, along with the direction, cinematography, and world it takes place in, the acting is what really makes this version of the Joker stand apart from other iterations of the character in past movies. Joaquin Phoenix can bring Arthur Fleck to life in a new way that hasn’t been seen before by the Joker. This is a completely different Joker than we have ever seen in the comics, movies, or even television shows. He stands out and makes this one of the best takes on the Joker that we have seen. While he plays the part amazingly, he does make the character come off as depressing, while not making it so the film focuses on him being a hero. The mix of Joaquin’s acting the story of the film make you feel bad for the things that happen to him, but not in a sympathetic way as he brings a lot of it on himself. It is a fine line to dance around when it comes to a character like this, and Joaquin manages to pull it off amazingly, and brings one of the creepiest Joker laughs to life. Any scene in the film where the Joker laughs instantly makes anyone uncomfortable, in the movie and people watching the movie. If there is one thing that will be remembered most from this movie, it will be Joaquin’s eerie laugh.


Closing Thoughts

Joker is a stand out movie and will probably stand up as one of DC’s best films based on the comics. While not based on a story from the comic, the originality of this film is probably what will make it the most memorable to comic book fans, and since it isn’t based on pre existing material it felt as fresh to comic book readers as it does to general audiences. With a great story, great acting, and cinematography that brings the entire movie together perfectly, I can only suggest seeing this movie. That said this is not a family movie, this is not a movie for kids in any way, this is a dark film that while not scary, is not meant for younger audiences. It comes off as a dark indie movie that had some names and places renamed to fit the setting of Gotham and the Joker, but it fits the character perfectly. If you can see the movie in theaters, I highly suggest it, otherwise find a way to see it whether it be on Blu-Ray or streaming when its released. Joker is one of my top films this year.


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