Before it even came out, director Todd Phillips’ Joker created a huge buzz. Prior to its release, the movie spawned a controversy that seemed pretty unnecessary. Now, I do not necessarily love Joker, but I will admit, ever since I saw it, many of its scenes have constantly been in the back of my mind and I cannot stop thinking about it. The film was quite interesting and worth the two hours of run-time.
The first element to really stand out is Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character. He is a great actor, and this movie displays just how committed he is. He revealed that he had to lose more than 50 pounds for his role as the outcast Arthur Fleck (who later evolves into the clown prince we all know), which shows how dedicated he is to his roles. Throughout the movie, Phoenix really makes you feel bad for Arthur. It felt as if he was not an actor at all, but really just the “mentally ill loner” that the film needed him to portray. His transformation skills were a definite high point.
“Joaquin Phoenix helps to bring in a more sympathetic portrayal of the character for the first half of the movie,” said Abrahm Adamany, class of 2020.
This version of the character Joker is different than all of the other versions portrayed prior. Phillip’s film is also different than most comic book movies. It is revolutionary in a way. Most comic book movies are not the grittiest films, and this might be the thing that will change that. DC movies have always tried to be grittier in the past but it never has seemed to work out–this is a different kind of gritty by all means anyways. It is much more darker than what they have tried in the past and it works surprisingly well. It is also grounded in reality, which is, once again, different than most other comic book movies.
So, Joker is ground-breaking for its respective genre, but in my opinion, the film does not feel completely right. It is beautifully shot and the plot tells the story that it needed to, but the one thing that made the movie odd to me was the whole element of not knowing if any of the events truly happened. There were two “events” in the movie that were twisted in the imagination of the protagonist or just totally fictitious. I cannot say that it turned me off from the movie because I still enjoyed it thoroughly, but, for lack of a better phrase, it made me feel slightly uneasy in a way that did not necessarily benefit the story.
Mental illness is pretty much the underlying theme of Phillip’s vision, but this is also why the movie is controversial. Many argued that Joker glorified mental illness and placed violence as something that corresponds with it, but I disagree wholeheartedly. The movie tells a story like how any other movie would and mental illness happens to be the factor that somewhat frames the plot. Sure, they could have done better regarding the portrayal of some sensitive topics, but I believe it does play a role in how the movie has shone so far in the box office and in the media.
“The movie attempts to take on an analysis of mental health with the lead character. Although it doesn’t achieve that goal entirely, it does help to frame Arthur’s mindset in this corrupt and chaotic Gotham City,” said Adamany.
Overall, Joker was groundbreaking. This WILL change how comics will be adapted to the big screen for the future, and this change will most definitely be interesting. Personally, I am excited to see what will come as a result.