The most grounded comic book film in a long time
When the Joker origin story (directed by Todd Philips (“The Hangover”) and starring Joaquin Phoenix) was announced, people were skeptical.
With DC and Warner Brothers’ track record with recent comic book films, the film had a high possibility of not working.
From the minute you sit in that theatre and the film starts, you know you are in for a wild ride. “Joker” does not disappoint.
Set in 1981 in Gotham City, the film shows us a bleak look at what could be today’s world. The rich are getting richer and more powerful, while the poor are left behind.
Rats fill the streets and garbage collects.
In this bleak city, lives Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling and unstable clown as well as a wannabe stand-up comedian. Yet his smile and happiness as a clown is just a facade and underneath is a very sad, troubled and unstable man.
He is constantly beaten up, mocked and abused as he struggles with a neurological problem that causes fits of uncontrollable laughter no matter the emotion he is feeling– very chilling fits of laughter.
Fleck lives with his mom in a crappy apartment and is her caregiver and helps her day-to-day while struggling himself.
All he wants is to feel happy in life and be noticed for once. This coupled with his unstable mind begins his descent into becoming the Joker.
The film feels nothing like the comic book films that came before it. There is no giant CGI battle, no sky beam and no world-ending threat. There is simply a man struggling in a world that is falling apart around him.
It is the most real story to come out of comic books and has you glued to the screen in both anticipation and horror.
Joaquin Phoenix delivers one of the best performances in a while. Some may say he is even on the same level as, if not better than, Heath Ledger as the Joker in “The Dark Knight”.
His take on the Joker feels so real and authentic. You can’t help but sympathize with what he is struggling with, and be shocked and horrified at how he “fixes” his problem.
Accompanying him is some stellar cinematography and directing that really helps emphasize what type of film this is.
What helps set this apart is that it does not follow a single comic book origin story but takes elements from multiple. Todd Phillips set out to tell his own story and give us his own take on the Joker.
Needless to say, he delivered on that.
This film makes its viewers feel something and is one of the best films based on a comic character. The only other film to come close in recent memory would have to be Marvel’s “Logan”; but comparing the two would be a disservice to both, as they tell very different stories.
This film takes the leap that “Logan” did and has an R rating. This film deals with some tough and real topics. It also does not hold back, so be warned before you decide to bring someone young to this film.
“Joker” tells a very real story and is a must-watch for any cinema fan, even if you do not like comic book films as it is nothing like those. You’ll leave the theatre questioning everything and wanting to go back in for a second viewing, or even a third.
Do not miss out on this one while it is still in theatres. Doing so would be a disservice to yourself.