Movie Review "Joker"
by Brooke Wolfenbarger | published Feb. 21st, 2020
There was so much controversy surrounding the newly released "Joker" movie, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, that it was a must-see. With all the twists, turns and the array of emotions felt, I would give this movie an 8.5/10.
A Brief Summary
"Joker" introduces us to his origin story. We follow the life of Arthur Fleck, who we don't know is the Joker until the very end of the movie.
Fleck is a struggling clown who is terrorized daily on the streets, while trying to do his job as a sign holder. He struggles to make a living because he has to take care of his sick mother and has trouble holding on to the low paying job he does have.
Throughout the movie we see how most of Gotham City is struggling from its failing economy. Fleck is struggling just as much as the rest of them — maybe even worse with his mental illness.
We follow Fleck's journey as he tries to make a living as a comedian while also trying to figure out where he came from. Between all the major twists and turns, the audience gets to see how his mental illness affects his daily life and how it affects how people interact with him.
"Joker" can be seen as a very controversial movie based on how it can make the viewers sympathize with Fleck, even though he does terrible things.
Throughout the movie, we see how Fleck struggles through daily life and how he gets beaten up and laughed at. We also see how society has failed the lower classes. The economy is affecting a lot of businesses, such as those to help people with mental illnesses or give jobs to people that need them. With these institutions closing, it affects many people including Arthur Fleck. This starts to send him on a downward spiral. As an audience we are brought back to reality when the sympathy we feel is tested because some of his actions are so insane.
There is a turning point in the movie where Fleck kills three wealthy business men on a train. The men had been picking on him and harassing him when Fleck decides to take extreme measures.
Fleck killed them to show that they could not pick on him, but it also became a message to the bigger corporations that the lower class was tired of what they have been doing to the economy. This leads to the idea of starting a revolution against the upper class, which is what Fleck ends up doing.
With his actions of killing three wealthy businessmen, uniting the lower class and starting protests around the city for change, this makes Fleck an unknown hero in the community. It makes him feel like what he did was okay when really, it wasn't. The response he received from the public might have been the reason that the situation escalated the way it did.
(Major Spoilers Ahead)
In one of the last scenes, Fleck wakes up after a car accident surrounded by protestors who are cheering him on. This is the first time we see the majority of the public praising him and calling him Joker.
The Joker had just killed Murray Franklin on live TV and the protesters were rallying together because they believed in what Joker was doing and what he stood for. They believe he stood for change and they want to put a stop to how the upper class has been running things. Joker gives them a voice to be heard.
At the end we see him dancing to the crowd which was another common occurrence throughout the movie. He felt a sense of accomplishment for what he did, and the protestors were just there to confirm that for him.
The reason that Fleck does what he does is because he feels the injustice that is going on in Gotham City. The upper class is running the show, but leaving the lower class behind. This affects Fleck's way of life and it affects everyone he sees around him. He wants to save what is falling apart, while trying to keep from falling apart himself. But, what he uses to get his points across are not okay and he breaks the law many times to do so. These drastic measures are what bring the lower class together and in the end put the Joker on top.
"Joker" is the first movie that gives the audience a look at one of Joker's origin stories. The other times we see the Joker portrayed was when he was the villain in the Batman movies or "Suicide Squad."
Over the years we have seen many different Jokers with Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and more recently Jared Leto. All of these Jokers have been very unique, and each actor has made that character their own. Most of these movies typically revolved around Batman. The difference we see in Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, that makes his rendition unique, is that he is not the Joker when we first meet him, and he has nothing to do with Batman. He is his own person.
What this movie does so well is that it gives the audience a new perspective on his life. It makes the audience question their opinion of the Joker. The audience leaves the theater still confused because nobody really knows what was real or what was a part of Arthur Fleck's imagination.
Every other rendition of the Joker has made it very clear that the Joker is a bad guy. This new movie lets the audience in on his early life, which then makes us question these ideals we had before.
There has been no talk about this being a collection of movies, which might be a good thing. As a stand alone film, it gives the audience something to think about when they leave the theater. It makes the audience wonder what will happen next when they show a teaser of a young Bruce Wayne.
There were some very heavy themes throughout the movie and Joaquin Phoenix went to extreme lengths to become the Joker. He lost 52 pounds for the role just to get into character. There have been a lot of different portraits of the Joker by many different actors so it was interesting to see where this one lines up.