The Joker

An origin story that is sadder and more tragic than just a man warped by his own insanity.

Sir Douglas G. Harms, esq., The Dirty Penguin Presents: Movies!!

When the Joker was originally announced that it would be a standalone story outside the current DC universe which would be different from Jared Leto’s portrayal of the clown prince of crime, one is left wondering if it was really necessary or needed. When it was announced that Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Her, Walk the Line) would star with Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) directing, the buzz for this film grew exponentially. Would this movie live up to the hype? The answer is a resounding yes. 

Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck tries to make it in a Gotham that is heartless to the downtrodden and helpless. Set in the early 80’s as a mirror to the rough New York City streets at the time, Fleck works at a clown service company. His mental illness which includes the symptom of laughing uncontrollably in stressful situations makes life difficult. As a series of unfortunate events sends him in a downward spiral, Fleck is pushed further and further to a breaking point as he becomes more and more isolated.

Phillips imbues the film with a grittiness of the city and crafts a well-done character study of one of the most well-known villains of all time. The difficulty of making the Joker his own character is quite a feat for Phoenix since he is following the footsteps of the insanity of Ledger, the fun of Nicholson, and the unfortunateness of Leto. He succeeds in giving a performance of the Joker whose origin is sadder and more tragic than just a man warped by his insanity. Expect to see him nominated for this performance this award season.

Joker is enthralling and leaves the audience guessing through some twists. It would be nice if they used this for the basis of the new Batman with Robert Pattinson, but since Warner Bros is involved, they most likely follow their huge pattern of mistakes and leave this a standalone while pushing the new stuff into DCU. One can hope.

9/10 igloos

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