Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Directed by Todd Phillips
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
A film long in the making, fans of the DC universe were hopeful that this would be the title feature that saw the franchise elevate to the levels routinely set by its rival Marvel. A successful film was widely expected, but it looks like the success of this film could surpass even the most optimistic expectations!
Set in the fictional Gotham City, the film follows failed comedian Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) as he struggles to find a place for him and his mother in an increasingly desperate world. When he suddenly finds himself a murderer, his mental strength crumbles in tandem with the city at large, sending him on a journey to embodying the famous supervillain.
This felt like one of the most unique cinema experiences in recent years. A modern audience accustomed to the grand superhero blockbuster was quickly reduced to an awkward murmur as the film’s sad opening signalled the start of an incredibly dark movie. yes, it was known to be dark beforehand, but it’s a different thing when you’re actually sat watching. Joker was a movie that never let you feel totally comfortable.
In fact, there were parts of this film where it felt too morbid. Joker follows the title human through his dreary life, watching said existence crumble apart like the fabric of his city. Much like his trademark chuckle, large parts of this movie felt almost torturous for the self. All of that is before you consider some of the darkest, most graphic murder scenes we’ve ever seen, certainly in a franchise blockbuster! However, the more we think about these moments, the more they become necessary for the film and the clown’s concluding crescendo.
We’ve always been fans of Joaquin Phoenix’s work and, while not being huge experts on the DC lore, it felt like he did an excellent job with the famous villain here. While it feels like he’s been around for ages, looking through his filmography, this might be his biggest role to date and he embodied it with all the class and ability he has showcased in critically-acclaimed films. Across the whole cast, this was a film where it felt like nobody was out of place.
The direction in Joker by Todd Phillips has gone a long way to making this ambitious pseudo-superhero noir movie work for a wide audience. As mentioned above, the incredibly dark nature of the film’s content paves the way to a joyous conclusion, with clever use of colour bringing you into the freed mind of the title character. While the film’s setting was slightly all over the place, the actual use of tone and direction helped to make an uncomfortable film one you couldn’t stop watching.
We had high hopes for Joker going into it and while much of it was as good and dark as we had hoped, it has delivered something more. Joker has brought a different style of cinema to a mainstream scene that has become hugely Disney-fied. For the fist time since they went up against Marvel, I left this film genuinely excited to watch more of this DC Universe!