Movie Review: Joker (2019)

Taking inspiration from the DC Comics villain of the same name, but entirely unrelated to the various cinematic universes going around, Joker is a 2019 drama film directed by Todd Phillips. Arther Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is an aspiring comedian, currently working dead-end jobs as a rent a clown, and living with his mother, Penny (Franced Conroy). With only his neighbour Sophie (Zazie Beetz) showing him any compassion, it is Arthur’s dream to appear on The Murray Franklin show, hosted by late night talk show host, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro).

+ Phoenix is just incredible. Sympathetic, unsettling, overly aggressive and wildly unhinged in the space of moments, Phoenix’s Fleck is a complicated and very unwell man, and whilst he certainly is an anti-hero, at best, it is hard to decide whether you should be rooting for or against him
+ all of the bit-players are compelling in their own ways, too. Beetz, once again, has a small but pivotal role as Fleck’s neighbour, while De Niro plays against type as the talk show host (as a call back to his character in 1983’s The King of Comedy). Brett Cullen has a few scene-stealers as a wealthy Gotham philanthropist, and personal favourite bit-player Shea Whigham appears as one half of a pair of detectives. Essentially, despite this being a Joaquin Phoenix showcase, every other actor was good to great as well
+ the plot is scarily realistic, with none of the supernatural or contrived ‘comic book logic’ from most origin stories (that said, it is not entirely clear if Fleck is THE Joker from the Batman mythos)

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) puts on a happy face.

Should you see this film: Absolutely. This is one of the best movies of the year, and I think it is definitely one to see.


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