After decades of standing in Batman’s shadow, the Joker has finally been given a standalone movie. Todd Phillips directs, Joaquin Phoenix is the star, and the story of the Dark Knight’s most iconic adversary is told.
Go see it. Leave the kids at home – this film is not suitable for kids – and go see it.
Joker is one of the best movies of 2019 – no contest.
Review done. Book your tickets. Go!
Oh… you want more?
When Joker was first announced, I was less than enthusiastic about the movie. I didn’t understand why Warner Bros. Pictures would green light a project like this while trying so desperately to build up a cinematic universe (Batman v Superman, Justice League etc) to rival Marvel.
Almost every one of Warner Bros’. DC movies had seemed such a struggle to get to the big screen and even when they arrived they were mostly opening to such harsh criticism. How could Joker – a movie that was a rough Joker origin story at best – fair any better?
Then the first trailer dropped. It was quirky, unique, different. The footage that appeared in that first trailer convinced me this could be a very interesting picture.
Then the second trailer arrived and I was completely on board. It looked like a breath of fresh air and a genuine attempt to do something very unexpected.
And that’s what Joker is. It is a movie that is unexpected.
For those who have not watched any of the trailers, Joker follows the story of a wannabe comedian called Arthur Fleck. Life has been tough for Arthur, and struggling with a number of mental health issues he is finding the world to be a very harsh place.
His only outlet of joy and freedom comes from his job as a clown. But he soon learns that even the smallest bit of happiness can be taken away.
Why? Because life is unfair. Life and the world can crap on people and it does. It craps on Arthur Fleck. And over the course of two hours, the movie slowly, but surely, demonstrates what can happen to people who get crapped on, or who fall through the gaps. Joker is a brutal, yet realistic portrait of what could be happening to the guy across the street, or the neighbour down the hallway.
This isn’t a super villain story. This is a headline, ripped from today’s newspapers. This is a comic book movie unlike any we have seen before. Oh, there are flashes of Christopher Nolan in here (along with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Don Siegel), but this is something new. It’s hard going, it’s twisted, it’s brilliant.
And do you know what else is brilliant? Joaquin Phoenix’s performance.
When Jack Nicholson played the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, Batfans said no one could top his portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime. Then Heath Ledger came along and blew everyone away.
Phoenix has raised the bar once more. He is the best live-action Joker to date.
I feel very confident in saying this, because he is the most real Joker there is. He is the embodiment of the Joker – unhinged, unpredictable, and a grotesque figure of chaos and disorder.
There are moments in the movie when you think you have a handle on who he is. But you don’t. You can’t. Only the Joker (and Phoenix) knows who he is and what he is going to do next.
I want to say he is cool as ‘f***’, but ultimately he’s a deeply disturbed figure, so I’m uneasy with giving him this title. But I can say this: I guarantee the Joker will be this year’s No.1 Halloween costume – he will be a rock star to many and someone that some people relate to.
Joker is a fascinating picture to watch, that feels so timely, yet exists in its own unique bubble. It casts a reflection on today’s society, while at the same time embeds itself in an era of Dirty Harry, Taxi Driver and the like.
The film is about struggles, mental health, class systems and disorder. It is about the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and in 2019 it couldn’t be more relevant.
Director Todd Phillips should be commended for what he has accomplished with this story. As should Joaquin Phoenix.
Joker is an Oscar worthy movie that deserves to be shortlisted for the top awards next year. This film is going to make lots of money and it deserves every cent.
Once again, go see it.
If you want to read more Batman-related content then head over to my blog, I’ll Get Drive-Thru. I’ll Get Drive-Thru is solely dedicated to Batman movies, covering all of the live-action and animated films that have been released so far.