Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Despite mixed reviews and a rather chaotic press tour, Todd Philips’ “Joker” does not disappoint. At face value “Joker” is simply telling the origin story of one of the most infamous villains of all time. Yet throughout the movie I was amazed at the moving and emotionally disturbing performance Joaquin Phoenix gave. This movie would truly not be the same if someone other than Phoenix was the star. He approached the role knowing that he had big shoes to fill. Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson gave unforgettable performances playing the same character, considering his alter ego Aurther Fleck was a lonely, pathetic disturbed young man searching for light in a world of darkness. Although this character seems unlikely to turn into a killer, the story reveals he always was.
If there was one criticism to be said for the movie, it would be the rather messy and often confusing plot. At times the story felt slow, as if it was relying too much on the brilliance of Phoenix and his disturbingly authentic performance. By choosing to distance itself from the original comic, the result was a less entertaining and more gritty movie.
Phillips seems to have drawn inspiration from modern day classics such as “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy.” This was made apparent when Robert Deniro was introduced as the cheesy and cynical late night talk show host. Although Deniro played a small role in “Joker”, his character reveals the flaws in the Joker’s violent philosophies and adds a layer of humanity to the film.
All in all, this movie is a tribute to the remarkable Joaquin Phoenix and his dark, unsettling performance of an infamous icon. If you come looking for a superhero movie filled with action and adventure you will be disappointed by this is brutal character drama, but this is a film that will leave you questioning everything.