‘Joker’ Checks All the Boxes


Warner Brothers Pictures

Adapting a comic book into a film doesn’t always go well. Sometimes the outlandish characters don’t transfer over to the realism of live-action movies in a way that makes sense. Todd Phillips’ Joker isn’t the case though.

The film follows a lonely man named Arthur Fleck. He works as a clown for hire. His coworkers make fun of him and the kids beat him up. At the end of the night, he comes home to a crazy mother who constantly writes to her old employer, Thomas Wayne.

The series of tragedies and revelations within the film show how someone could be pushed beyond the limits and become something as insane as the Joker.

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Arthur Fleck is phenomenal.

Phoenix often method acts for his roles which means that even when the camera’s aren’t rolling, he’s in character. For 2016’s Suicide Squad, Jared Leto used the same technique when he played the Clown Prince of Crime, but his part didn’t pay off as well as Phoenix’s.

The films depiction of the iconic fictional city, Gotham, is certainly one of the best. Most of the filming took place in New York City, where Gotham takes inspiration. In other films such as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, we get more of a birds eye view of the city and its struggles, but in Joker, the viewer is really taken down into the grime of the city in the 1980s. We see the tensions between the rich and the poor and we see how the citizen’s suffer in a city with a constantly growing crime rate.

Clearly, much attention was put into the writing by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver. Every scene is meant to show Arthur’s transformation into the Joker.

This film can’t be classified as a superhero or comic book movie. It is a character piece that takes quite a large departure from the source material. Phillips was never trying to adapt a certain comic book or origin. He was just trying to tell a good story. He gave the titular character a real name which the comic books never really did.

The story is told from Arthur Fleck’s perspective and with him being mentally unstable and all, that can throw the viewers a few curve balls. It makes it hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t, so that leaves the movie up for quite a lot of interpretation.

Joker is a spectacular film that tells a melancholic tale of a man’s descent into madness. It’s thought provoking and leaves the viewer wanting to see it again to get a better understanding of what the heck they just watched. 10/10. Highly recommended.