Film Review : Joker

Failed clown and stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck is desperate for both happiness and connection. The sadness and irony of flecks loner character is instant; he paints on a happy face both physical and metaphorically while being racked with pain inside.

To compound his broken soul, he suffers from a medical condition that turns his internal screams into maniacal uncontrollable cackling laughter which is later revealed to have been caused by abuse from his mentally unstable adoptive mother.  He is isolated, bullied, beaten and disregarded by a cruel society which fuels his uncomfortable to watch descent into rage and madness that unleashes his sociopathic alter ego Joker. 

Fleck is the ultimate unreliable narrator, plagued by mental health issues, abandoned by unequal city where the rich get richer and the broken left to rot, his character spirals just as his ability to either understand to portray his own story does. From the early stages of wandering violent thoughts to delusions of climbing in a fridge and the one true positive aspect of his life his relationship with his neighbour being revealed to be entirely imagined. At times you are unsure what is real and what is the emerging psychosis but this mirrors the shattered state of mind of the character. 

Joaquin Phoenix was pure perfection, he gave a mesmerising lead performance. Ferocious, feral and heart breaking all at the same time. His drastic weight lost revealed an awkward unsettling skeletal figure that added to his haunted look. 

While Todd Philips taking the directors helm did not seem like the most obvious choice due to his previous comedic offerings of Borat and the Hangover trilogies he has created a bold, devastating and utterly beautiful piece of cinema.

There is an obvious plot hole, while this has always been touted as a stand-alone movie you can not ignore the glaringly obvious time error. Joker would effectively be fighting Batman in his 70s and he is yet to meet side kick Harley Quinn, aka Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, MD as an Arkham Asylum Psychiatrist who falls in love with the Joker and becomes his accomplice and twisted love interest. This is about 20 years too late alongside Margot Robbies beloved hot pants and the rest of the DC Universe timeline. DC have clearly thought screw continuity Joker is a strong enough film to be worthy of unravelling everything they have made before. By stepping away from the DC Universe Philips was freed to create an entirely new Joker. Also it is hard to see the shell of a man that Fleck is become the highly intelligent criminal mastermind that the Joker would become, but the film only focuses on the start of his journey into Gotham and Batman infamous nemesis. 

Bleak, violent and powerful; definitely not your typical comic book movie. The good guys do not win but then in a rather unsettling way you find yourself thinking sometimes the “good guys” don’t deserve to.

He is the villain the city created and on some level deserved and as his clown apostles take to the street and go full Purge on the shattered city Joker rises as the antihero a strong fraction of Gotham wanted.