Updated: Jun 13, 2021
Greetings fellow cinefiles! Here’s my 2-cents on Todd Phillips’ “Joker” movie. Take it or leave it!
Before I begin, I’d like to disclose that I went into the experience assuming that I would absolutely HATE it, mostly because of all the chatter about it being derivative of “Taxi Driver” (which I’m not a huge fan of). However, that assumption could not have been further from the truth. In my professionally educated opinion, “Joker” is quite possibly the closest thing I’ve seen that could be described as a cinematic masterpiece. The writing, directing, cinematography, casting, acting, and editing were nothing short of incredible. I honestly can’t think of a single filmmaking aspect that fell short in comparison to the next.
Will it inspire some mentally unstable incels to commit similar crimes? Probably… But that’s not the movie’s fault, it’s society’s fault. The movie doesn’t glorify or justify any of its limited violence, even if said violence is directed toward mostly a select few despicable characters. The movie simply tells a layered cautionary tale about how mental illness is often stigmatized and swept under the rug, and it dives headfirst into how a perfect storm of repetitive hardships could lead someone to eventually do crazy things, especially if they have exhibited traits of a personality disorder.
Of course people are going to argue about whether it endorses an irresponsible message to those who are already on the edge, but they need to understand that it’s simply a narrative story about one man’s tragic journey toward becoming evil due to lifelong mental and physical trauma. Either way, the movie itself is an amazing creative endeavor to behold. But again, it should not be blamed for any copycat psychos. If that were the case, then we might as well just ban every single form of creative entertainment, past, present, and future.
Moving on, Joaquin Phoenix should be given the Oscar right now. I seriously feel bad for the other actors in his category, because they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell against him this year. Regardless of how the haters might feel about his character’s motivations, there’s no denying that he deserves the highest praise in the land for such a chilling and fascinating performance. Make no mistakes about it, Phoenix’s Arther Fleck / Joker is indeed a villain, but his portrayal demands some sort of empathy, even if it’s subconsciously given.
It’s definitely NOT the feel-good movie of the year, but it blew my expectations out of the water, in terms of how narrative films are intended to hold your attention and make you feel specific emotions through the use of sound design and dynamic visuals onscreen. If this review has convinced anyone to go see it, please keep in mind that it is so much more of a social commentary exploration, rather than a comic book origin story.
– Scott Thomas Crawley