Finally, I got a chance to watch Todd Phillip’s The Joker, and it is a remarkably well-made film. Joaquin Phoenix gives an exceptional performance. I notice how Todd Phillip’s movies have gotten progressively darker and darker, and this is probably his best film yet. The Joker was supposed to be a stand-alone film, but it should not be. There is plenty of meat on that bone to make a few sequels. Especially since this is an origins story, and an excellent origins story to be precise. It gives a deep and profound character study into one of the most iconic comic book characters ever.
And although this is a studio movie, it has the air of an independent film. The film borrows heavily from Taxi Driver (1976), The French Connection (1971), and The King of Comedy (1983), which I think is a thing of genius to draw from those classic films. Right from the opening scene, you get the sense that this movie is set in the late ’70s or early ’80s. New York City and parts of Newark were used as locations for Gotham city. If you commute between NYC and New Jersey as I do, you can tell that most parts of Queens, Washington Heights, and most of North Bergen can easily be used as locations to recreate the feel and vibes of the ’70s and ’80s. It is like those places are architecturally stuck in time. Even the subway shots look outdated. If you ride the subway in NYC as I do daily, you can see how the trains, platforms, and train stations have a very dystopian feel to them, and this movie captures it impeccably.
Arthur Fleck (The Joker), is not a criminal mastermind in this movie, unlike previous Jokers in other movies, those other movies established Joker as a criminal mastermind from the start of those films. In Todd Phillip’s film, he is frail, sickly, weak, sensitive, and insecure. He daydreams of making it big as a stand-up comedian. Any criminal intentions or any anarchist tendencies do not seem to be part of his nature. You cannot help but root for him throughout most of the movie until you get to the point where you can no longer root for him, that is the genius of this film.
Fleck, finally snapping and making the heel turn, is brilliantly executed. The chaos that follows in the streets and uprising of the people towards the establishment due to Fleck’s actions has an air of V for Vendetta where the masses took to the streets wearing Guy Fawkes masks to take on the state. We see something very similar here. We also get to see the connection between Fleck and the Wayne family. We see from where his hate and anger originates. We see a young Bruce Wayne, a young Alfred, and the moment when Bruce Wayne loses both his parents in an alley. All the origins marks are met. However, most importantly, we see how the system lost Arthur, how the system created this monster, how the lack of empathy and understanding of mental health issues led to Arthur Fleck to lose his sanity and become The Joker.
Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿