In a world saturated by superhero films and television shows, it’s rare to find a film that covers the origin story of the villains, but there seems to be a trend growing. Following films such as Brightburn and even Glass, Joker is another great instalment in what I like to call the ‘Anti-Hero’ genre.
In Joker we meet Arthur Fleck, played by the amazing Joaquin Phoenix, a 30-something mentally ill man who lives with his mother and works as a clown to promote businesses and entertain children in hospital. It may sound fun, but in 1970’s Gotham, in the midst of a sanitation strike and a tension building between the city’s rich and blue-collar citizens, it’s quite a tough gig. Life continues to get harder, as more challenges are thrown Arthur’s way and we witness his unravelling to become everyone’s favourite Batman villain, ‘The Joker’.
Joaquin Phoenix‘s performance in this film is outstanding, like nothing we have seen before from a Joker film, maybe it’s even too good! His take on the Joker laugh will give you goosebumps and creep you out. But it is a performance that makes you feel sympathy for Arthur too, someone who is in need of help but has been forgotten by the system. This film is truly riveting and I’m sure will create a lot of buzz come Oscar time. Phoenix is the standout of this film.
I must commend director Todd Philips on his work for this film. Known for bringing us films like The Hangover and Old School, you wouldn’t expect to see his name on a film like this. But he suits the film perfectly, delivering a dark humour to a very intense film. I must also praise him for bucking the usual trend of ‘wanna-be’ epics with this kind of film, he has kept it to around 2 hours long, and the pacing of the film felt perfect. I often find myself looking at my watch through the longer films, wondering how much more there is to go, but I didn’t look once during Joker. Well done indeed!
I’ve got to say that the soundtrack for Joker is also fantastic. Hildur Guðnadóttir does an amazing job of building tension and intensity to scenes with deep, dark and slow-paced orchestral sounds, and picks up the pace when needed. These compositions mixed with some classic pop songs and hits, energises the narrative and puts a bit of a fun spin into the music, making for a great combination.
Joker has been receiving a lot of praise and buzz from critics, a fair share of controversy, and it is all warranted. The film is outstanding, and makes you feel so much for poor Arthur as he is constantly broken down and humiliated. You forget that he is a murderer and what he will go on to become. The film, and Phoenix’s performance is some of his best work. If you’re a Batman fan, Joker is a must-see. Heck, I want to see it again and I’m not that big of a Batman fan! I can’t wait to see where this film will lead for the future of the Joker and Bruce Wayne himself!