Joker is one of those movies that people will be talking about for years. I went into this movie with sky-high expectations, and what I got was so much better than anything I ever could have ever imagined. Todd Philips, Scott Silver, and Joaquin Phoenix have created probably the most unnerving, stress inducing, and awe inspiring theater experience I’ve ever had the privilege of attending.
Joker follows a mentally-ill man named Arthur, who lives with his mother, and works full time as a clown-temp of sorts. He acts as a clown on call who works around promoting and entertaining where he’s needed, but as Arthur says in the opening scenes, “it’s getting crazier in Gotham City.” Set in the early 1980’s, crime rates in Gotham are rising at alarming rates and the streets are no longer safe.
Arthur suffers from Pseudobulbar affect (PBA.) A condition that’s characterized by episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying. He has also been casually diagnosed with a plethora of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Most prominently, in this incarnation, no matter how he’s feeling he can’t control his laughter. This condition causes many problems for him. Resulting in him being mistaken as laughing at someone instead of him literally not being able to control it.
With his career dwindling, and a dream to pursue stand-up comedy, Arthur starts writing jokes, attending comedy clubs, and even trying his hand at an act. He bombs, and is discouraged from comedy as his delusions worsen, his mother gets sick, and his favorite late night TV host Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro) gets a hold of his act on tape, and mocks Arthur live on his show, resulting in Arthur beginning to slip into an irredeemable spell of anger, darkness and violence.
Arthur begins to commit, and apparently enjoy these devious acts of violence, falling further into the character he’s made of himself, attending riots, hyping up crowds, and fuelling the madness he has single handedly inspired, he truly does function as an agent of chaos, and people are beginning to notice.
As he learns more about the dark past he seems to have forgotten and was hidden from him as tensions rise with the anarchy he has accidentally created in the streets, he transforms into The Joker. With twists and turns throughout, this movie amazed me from start to finish. Phoenix went all out here, and only further proved he is among the greatest actors working today.
Phoenix gives an Oscar worthy performance, with support from the always fantastic Robert DeNiro, this movie delivers in every way imaginable. Expert cinematography, incredible writing, spine chilling original music, and a color palette that shines bright, Todd Philips has truly crafted a Scorsese-esque modern masterpiece.
Joker is in theaters everywhere now.