Joker is a 2019 psychological thriller film directed by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. The film, based on DC Comics characters, stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is intended to launch DC Black, a series of DC-based standalone films.
Why It Rocks
- It's a great take on mental illness and bullying and how it affects the victim in a suspenseful way fitting for a psychological thriller.
- The movie draws inspiration from classic films with similar themes like "The King of Comedy".
- Robert De Niro's casting in the movie is fitting given his role in "The King of Comedy".
- Unlike other recent DC films that tried too hard to be dark and edgy, Joker manages to be dark and serious by doing it correctly and the dark tone of the film enhances the narrative.
- Joaquin Phoenix does an amazing job playing The Joker. His performance is extremely flawless and beautiful. While Heath Ledger did a great job with Joker in The Dark Knight, Phoenix's performance is as great as the former, if not even better.
- Arthur Fleck's a very compelling character, as he goes through a ton of difficult stuff in his life, like bullying and such. He also has a ton of character development as he transforms into The Joker. His struggles also make the viewer want to be thrown into his world so that they can experience how he was treated.
- The film also works with Arthur's mental illness as it sometimes makes it harder for the viewer to know whether the events he's experiencing are real or not.
- The narrative also accurately portrays how Arthur's mental health progressively worsens through the film as he begins the movie as a sympathetic tragic person who continuously becomes more violent until he becomes a truly terrible person and a killer.
- While Arthur's conditions make him a sympathetic victim, his actions are still criminal and the move does paint him as a villain appropriately.
- The movie spreads a strong message on hatred, unfair class systems, the dangers of long-term suppression of emotions, abuse towards mental illness, among others with how Arthur is treated by society and his mental state. It also talks about how cruel people can be to others.
- While the violent moments are infrequent when they do happen, they're intense enough to make the viewer feel uncomfortable with the psychological implications behind the violence.
- It uses the old Warner Bros. "Big W" logo at the beginning, fitting with the time period this movie is set in.
- Although the movie's tackling of mental illness is profound, there are some inaccuracies. Some examples include:
- The pseudobulbar affect, a medical condition that causes people to laugh uncontrollably is a physical disorder rather than a mental disorder.
- Given his severe declining mental condition towards the end of the movie, Arthur shouldn't have been able to outsmart the detectives. He shouldn't be able to interact with the interviewers after donning the full Joker outfit.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 68% based on 544 reviews, with an average rating of 7.22/10. The verified audience approval rating is at 88%, with an average rating of 4.44/5 from over 66,000 ratings. The site's critical consensus reads: "Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star – and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 59 out of 100 based on 60 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The average user score is much higher, with a score of 9.1/10 from over 6000 ratings.
It is the first feature film rated R by the MPA to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.
Awards and Nominations
Joker has been nominated and won multiple awards, including the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival. It also received 11 nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to Parasite, 1917, and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. It ended up winning Best Actor and Best Original Score.