Joker Review: Amazing Film, Annoying Controversy.

5 stars
When I first heard that there would be a Joker origin film, I was pretty concerned.
The Joker is usually depicted as a character with an unclear and self described “multiple choice” backstory, so I felt it would be weird to give him a clear one.
And then I saw the trailers, which absolutely floored me.
Everything about the movie looked great in those trailers, from Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, to the story, to the cinematography.
However, I still went into the film with a touch of hesitation because I have seen plenty of movies with amazing trailers that turned out to not be very good (I am looking at you Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
But, you know what?
The trailers were accurate.
Joker is an absolutely incredible movie and Phoenix and director Todd Phillips deserve all the praise for it.
The film tells the story of Arthur Fleck, an impoverished man who lives with his mentally unwell mother (Frances Conroy), and has a disorder that causes him to laugh uncontrollably when he is nervous.

poor arthur
Arthur’s laughing disorder was a stroke of genius, with it being painfully evident how much is hurts him both socially and physically.

As Arthur get beaten down by others again and again, he begins to hit back in increasingly violent ways, eventually leading to him becoming the infamous Joker.
First of all, I have to praise Phoenix for his amazing performance here.
He definitely deserves to get nominated for an Oscar, at the very least.
I was equal parts terrified of him and sympathetic towards him throughout the course of the film.

Arthur Fleck.jpg
Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker is right up there with Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill in levels of greatness.

And, (I shouldn’t have to say this but apparently I do) no, Arthur being sympathetic does not glorify the violence he commits.
There is so much controversy surrounding Joker that I feel it has hit the height of absurdity.
At no time does it feel like the film is condoning Arthur’s horrific and evil actions, rather it portrays them in a tragic light with his slow descent into madness.
Arthur may think his life is a comedy by the film’s end but it is definitely a tragedy in my eyes, with the film commenting on the role everyone plays in what he becomes.
The film does not encourage violent people to strike out, rather it shows us the consequences of not getting help for these people, serving as a cautionary tale.
And, with that, my rant about the ridiculous controversy is over and I can get on with the rest of the review.
Along with Phoenix’s performance, there are many other brilliant things about the film.
The story takes many interesting twists and turns, with other actors Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz doing great jobs.
Along with this, the film is supported by the amazing cinematography and soundtrack, which are both also Oscar worthy.

cinematography 1.jpg
The way the cinematography frames Arthur as he slowly begins to transform into the Joker across the film is brilliantly handled.

Hildur Guðnadóttir, who also composed the Chernobyl miniseries soundtrack, wrote the soundtrack for Joker and it is absolutely flawless.
It was not something I was expecting to be so entranced by going in, so it was a very pleasant surprise.
If I had to give any criticisms to the film it would be the ending, specifically the final scene.
I distinctly remember sitting in the theater, being absolutely enthralled by the second to last scene and thinking, “if it ends here then this movie will be a masterpiece.”
However, the movie does not end there because there is an additional scene which, at first, I did not really appreciate.
After looking up some info about the ending, though, I do see what Phillips was trying to convey with it.
I still think the movie should have ended with that second to last scene because it really helped to emphasize the tragedy of Arthur Fleck.
That said, though, I cannot say that the final scene was bad or that it did not work within the context of the film, so I won’t be deducting any points from it.
Overall, Joker is my favourite film of the year so far.
It is dark, twisted, and deeply uncomfortable, but in all the right ways.

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