Writer: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver (Screenplay)
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Brian Tyree Henry
Plot: A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.
Tagline – Put on a happy face.
Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Dark Twist on the Origin Story
Story: Joker starts as we meet want to be entertainer Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), he works as a clown through a range a roles, though he does have a reputation for being difficult, he lives in a rundown apartment with his mother Penny (Conroy), with dreams of making it as a stand up comedian, with his idol being Murray Franklin (De Niro) the host of a daily show.
As Arthur starts to see certain parts of his life fall apart, he sees a blossom relationship with his neighbour Sophie (Beetz) until he learns the truth about his past and learns to put on his happy face to become Joker.
Thoughts on Joker
Characters – Arthur Fleck is a loner that has been struggling for work, he wants to be an entertainer and is working on his own material to try his luck at stand-up comedy. He starts a new relationship and thinks his life is going in a new direction, until he learns the truth, becoming the icon we know. Murray Franklin is the host of his own talk show, he handles the comedy of the real events and is the man Arthur sees as an idol, he sees one of the clips of the stand up and puts it on his own show. Sophie is the neighbour and single mother that starts a relationship with Arthur, showing him in a better life. Penny is the mother of Arthur, she sees only the good in the richest man in the town and writes to him often waiting for a reply from her former employer. While most of the characters do have more about them, though most details will contain full spoilers.
Performances – Joaquin Phoenix gives us a wonderful performance, showing his commitment to the role, which will be one people will talk about when award season hits. Robert De Niro is joy to watch as the charismatic talk show host. Zazie Beetz is good to watch, though she just doesn’t get enough screen time. Frances Conroy is strong to through the film.
Story – The story here follows a man that has been failed by the society and the mental health system, which sees him struggle to deal with reality and begin his path to become one of the most iconic comic villains. This is much like Venom, a strange choice for a character to bring to the centre stage because we shouldn’t be backing a villainous character, but this time we do get everything connecting to why Joker became who he is. By stepping into how mental health can be brushed aside at times forcing people to fall through the cracks, not being treated the correct way to help them. If you are expecting any sort of comic book movie, you will be lost in this one because nothing we see has anything that couldn’t become a reality, which is what could make the film feel unsettling in places. This is also a story that could have been told without needing to throw a big character name like the Joker in around it and it might have been even better if it didn’t rely on the familiar name.
Crime – The crime side of the film shows how Arthur starts by being a victim, before he starts to try and show just how far he will go to stand up for himself.
Settings – The film does use the settings brilliantly, showing how Arthur has come from the bottom, never been given a thing in life, which does reflect just how we would see a Batman figure born with wealth.
Final Thoughts – This is an interesting a dark spin on the world for one of the biggest names in comic book history, without making it feel like a comic book in anyway.
Overall: Dark and as Twisted as You Would Imagine.