Joker: Hollywood comic book movie review
Joker is a latest comic book based Hollywood movie starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role. Todd Phillips directed this crime drama gives us the background story about the origin of the supervillain Joker who later becomes the arch-enemy of Batman. Following is the review of the film.
When Warner Bros. had announced in early 2018 that the company will be producing a standalone origin story of supervillain Joker in 2019, the news was not received exactly very enthusiastically by the critics as well as the audience. The DC universe, even after the success of Wonder Woman, was on shaky ground as its own 'superhero team-up' had bombed badly in the form of Justice League just a few months back. Yes, the news about the actor chosen to play Joker, three-times Oscar award nominee Joaquin Phoenix, did make people sit up and take notice, most of them were sceptical about the idea alone. Cue to October 2019 and how the things have turned out so well for all the parties involved in the making of 'Joker'. The movie has already earned an obscene amount of money (around USD 400 million at the time of writing this review) against a production budget of just USD 60 million. Moreover, it has earned them critical acclaim and is a frontrunner in the next year's Academy Award nominations, especially in the category of Best Actor for Phoenix. Let's check out the plot and thereafter review of the film.
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is working as a clown for a small company in Gotham in the early 1980s. The times are really bad in the city and things are quickly getting out of the hands of the authorities. Fleck himself is battling with his mental problems, his sick mother and a failed career as a stand-up comedian. He is also inspired by Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) a famous talk show host and wishes to get successful like him. Things take a bitter turn in his life when he is fired from his job over an issue and the same day he runs into a group of affluent people in an inebriated state. Unable to take the beating, Fleck shoots them. Things started getting downhill all over after this incident. Fleck's mental condition worsens once his govt sponsored medications are stopped. At the same time, the underprivileged people of the city take inspiration from the unknown killer clown who had gunned down three people a few days back and start with agitations. How the events unfold later that gives birth to arch-nemesis of Batman forms the rest of the story.
Todd Phillips' Joker is so very different from the comic books films that we have seen till now. There are no familiar tropes, no grandiose action sequences or a single word about the fight of good v/s evil. Joker is a pure crime drama even if the movie has been promoted as a supervillain origin story. It is an intense 2-hour long movie that whips up tension and never relents. And that is largely due to the spectacular performance of Joaquin Phoenix. After the fiasco of Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, it looked like that Heath Ledger's take on Joker would remain the definitive portrayal of the Batman's arch-enemy for the years to come, but how effortlessly Phoenix proves us wrong. A lot of credit goes to the writing too as unlike Ledger's maniac, but one-dimensional antagonist, Phoenix's Joker has many shades. In fact, he is in almost every frame of the movie. And that is a boon as well as the bane of the movie because rest of the cast is reduced to playing cameos (even the great Robert Di Nero). The camerawork is excellent and the soundtrack is befitting the sombre (and part comic) tone of the movie. What Joker misses is the brilliant dialogues that elevated The Dark Knight to another level in the superhero genre. But again, Arthur Fleck of Joker is not an anarchist and other than the bits in the climax, the movie has little social commentary. It is a story of a tormented individual wronged by multiple people and the society at large & his descent into madness.
If your idea of a movie is a decent timepass for a couple of hours or a light entertainment then Joker is not for you. But for those who view cinema as a form of evolving art, missing Joker is akin to a sin.