When Heath Ledger died from the characterization of playing the role of ‘Joker‘ in the Dark Knight franchise, we thought there could never be another Joker.
And then we got Jared Leto who, for worse reasons mostly, did method acting for his role in Suicide Squad. We all know how forgettable that performance was.
Then Todd Phillips was handed a standalone Joker movie and he brought an Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix on board. The Gladiator actor is known for his riveting performances and that’s exactly what he brought to Joker.
Meanwhile both Scott Silver and Todd Phillips did a phenomenal job with the story. It was important to create an original story because we would have never heard the end of deviation from the comics.
No wonder despite all the criticism people swarmed to theaters for a look at this piece of art. Here’s the breakdown.
Joker is an original creation. When people were fussing about which Joker storyline from the comics would be adopted, Todd Phillips put them at ease with an original story. For instance, there is no Arthur Fleck in the DCEU. Its a totally original name chosen for this interpretation of the Joker.
This also clears any confusion on the standalone status of the film. The way the story progressed, Arthur Fleck’s character was developed and very well thought out. All the right developments in all the right places.
Particularly the way the scenes leading up to Arthur’s descent into madness and the reveal of that last nail in the coffin was climatic. We won’t spoil it for you here.
“What does someone do to get locked up in here?”
Not only did the writers create a whole new origin story for Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, but they also put some great dialogues in there.
“Happy? I’ve never been happy a single day of my whole life.”
When it comes to other characters it’s interesting to see that rich socialite Thomas Wayne wasn’t painted out to be the saint, we thought he would be. He’s just another politician, unaware of dynamics at the gross root level.
This does answer the question of how can people hate him when he does so much good. His charitable works are what he thinks the people of Gotham need. To be honest, he’s privileged and at times indifferent and kind of an ‘A’.
Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role stole the show obviously. Given this is Arthur Fleck’s origin story, the protagonist had most of the screen-time. How was it not tedious and redundant? Obviously, because the acting was captivating.
“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?
Playing a character that can be so easily hated and misunderstood, and yet make an audience empathize with is no small feat.
Yes, he is an incel and minus that one time his violent behavior wasn’t justified. Yet, you can empathize with the character even while you disapprove of his choices.
While other people with slivers of screentime did a great job, they didn’t really have a chance to compete to hold the screen.
At times Frances Conray fell short as Penny Fleck, particularly her rambling about Thomas Wayne being Gotham’s savior. Thomas Wayne isn’t the selfless saint she paints him out to be.
As for Arthur Fleck’s love interest, Sophie Dumond played by Zazie Beetz, that was just a sad case. Forget did it work out.
“You’ve got the wrong apartment, … Arthur right? You live down the hall.”
There is not enough praise for Todd Phillips after this film. The Hangover director really outdid himself. While if we peer closely his former works like Old School, Phillips keeps the screen looking apparently natural; but the way the angles change we don’t even realize how it’s influencing our perspective.
For example Joker’s dancing scene on the stairs. We don’t realize it but the angle gives you that ‘what’s he high on’ vibe.
“You told me there’s something wrong with my laugh. That it’s a condition … That’s just me,”
Scenes like Mr. J on a train with clowns, that is also in the trailer is an example of that. It seems harmless and creepy at the same time. The lighting and sound of the train whizzing by just adds to the drama.
Or the distance sound of children crying when Arthur’s in the elevator headed home. These little things add that flavor you can’t put your finger on but you know it would be a different taste without it.
All in all this film deserves at least an Oscar nomination this year. That seven-minute standing ovation at Venice Film Festival was called for.
While some may argue Joker is hands down the undisputed winner this year, let’s not forget Scorsese’s The Irishman and Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix characterizes Joker like no other. His acting paired with the character Scott Silvers and Todd Phillips wrote is why Joker is a must-see.
Arthur Fleck is a character that can be so easily hated and misunderstood. Yet, Joaquin Phoenix makes the audience empathize with the character even while you disapprove of his choices.