Star Cast: All Hail Joaquin Phoenix! Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz
Director: Todd Phillips
What’s Good: Exploring the unexplored areas of how high a movie can touch when it comes to emotional connect, a character-defining performance by Joaquin Phoenix & a BGM that will haunt you for life
What’s Bad: It’s only a few times I’ll be able to witness this in a cinema hall
Loo Break: Only if you can even blink your eye from what’s happening on the screen
Watch or Not?: This is not a ‘superhero’ movie, this depicts the reality in the realist way possible. So keep your expectations accordingly!
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) lives in a stinking 80s of Gotham when the streets are full of garbage due to the strike by the workers. A statewide emergency gets declared and people strive for the jobs. Arthur is fondly called as ‘Happy’ by his mother who is waiting for Thomas Wayne, a candidate running for the Mayor of Gotham, to make it a better place to live in. Arthur wants to become a comedian but eventually becomes Joker instead.
He wants to be a standup comedian but gets neglected by society for certain reasons. He works as a ‘party clown’ and gets fired for keeping the gun as a prop. Amidst the unjust society, Arthur aka Happy lives with his mother Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy) and they both love to watch the comedy show ‘Live With Murray Franklin’ (Robert De Niro). The movie shows an aching transformation of an ordinary person to the ‘Clown Prince Of Gotham’.
Joker Movie Review: Script Analysis
It’s 3 am while I file this review and I can still hear that hysterical laughter of Joaquin Phoenix. I was shocked by the Indian censor board not cutting anything until I saw the film. It’s disturbing at a mental level and not a physical one. There’s no scope of editing anything out because of the flawless writing and screenplay by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver. To those, who will compare this to Heath Ledger – please understand, both the Jokers are poles apart. Phoenix’s Joker starts off with the ordinary issues such as getting fired from the job, cutting off money from his paycheck, not being able to get to this father, but it’s the society that turns him into a Joker.
Much like Tim Burton & Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Phoenix’s antagonist tries to put on a happy face until he’s pulled out of himself and exposed to the dark world out there. The idea of giving Joker a medical condition of Pathological Laughter is a masterstroke and works in favour of the story. The symbolism of Joker, the message of being joker as a ‘state of mind’ translates smoothly through the process of chaos in the film. It ‘glorifies’ violence with the aim of ‘stopping’ it. Without nitpicking a thing, this is ‘once in a lifetime movie’ and I’m glad I was able to witness this masterpiece on screen.
“Do you want to know why Todd used Taxi Driver’s theme to build Joker’s aura? Because everything is too quick nowadays. You can’t savor all the… little emotions…”
Joker Movie Review: Star Performance
If Joaquin Phoenix isn’t getting an Oscar for his performance in this film, I’m abandoning to watch Academy Awards for the rest of my life. There are good performances, there are excellent performances, then there comes a performance which makes you live within that character. Phoenix masters the sequence of laughing maniacally, turning it into an eventual sobbing.
That squeak while laughing & maintaining a happy face but sad eyes, Phoenix blows everything away with his act. Losing around 25 kilograms for the role, his rib-cage is visible in scenes he contracts himself & there’s the limit one can get into a character. The sudden eruption to dance, detailed control over the tonality and most importantly nailing the ‘Joker Walk’, Phoenix has gifted us a different and solid perspective of a character we’ve seen multiple times on screen.
Tactfully used Robert De Niro plays a vital part in the narrative unlike a very ‘basic’ Pacino’s outing in the recent Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. De Niro, though have less screen-space, comes in and handles some of the very important moments of the film. Frances Conroy as Arthur’s mother is used beautifully to build a more humane connect to the Joker. Conroy does a wonderful job in playing the role of a bedridden woman holding some secrets under the sleeves.
Zazie Beetz as Arthur’s love interest enjoys her quirks while they last. A perfectly written and brilliantly performed character, and thankfully not stretched more than it should’ve been.
Joker Movie Review: Direction, Music
Very few know that director, Todd Phillips, in his maiden directorial (documentary) – Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, had created an atmosphere which included some Joker elements such as extreme behavior, violence, drug abuse, and physical abuse. Todd knows that world & that’s why despite being known for ‘Hangover’ trilogy, he was able to set up the aura of the world in which most of the things are delusional. Jeff Groth’s perfect edit helps the film to maintain a pace along with the disturbance caused by the screenplay. Todd, not only manages to outdo himself but also has set a standard for anyone who will touch the character of Joker yet again in the future.
From Jimmy Durante’s version of Nat King Cole’s Smile to Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life & Send In The Clowns, Joker is pumped up with a soundtrack that makes you question the existence of these songs before the film. Hildur Guðnadóttir, the master composer behind Chernobyln’s haunting score repeats his magic and uses his instruments at their best. The BGM helps many scenes to just elevate to another level, leaving the audience puzzled about what’s going to happen. A commendable job!
Joker Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, this movie is above and beyond any kind of reviews. Joaquin Phoenix levels up the bar set by Heath Ledger and the standard of touching the character of Joker is now at an all-time high. Recommended for that insane side of yours!
A PERFECT Five Stars!
Joker releases on 02nd October, 2019.
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