The Joker: Maybe not so funny


The film Joker was released Oct. 4, 2019, and was screened at the Bijou Cineplex 4 in Morrisville. The movie was also screened at The Roxy located in Burlington, and the Essex Cinema. The movie was directed by Todd Phillips and production was done by Warner Brothers. The Joker was played by Joaquin Phoenix, other leading actors were Robert De Niro, who played Murray Franklin and Francis Conroy who played Penny Fleck. The films running time is 2 hours and 2 minutes. The movie was the 32nd highest-grossing film of all time. IMDb gave it an 8.6 out of ten and Rotten Tomatoes rated it at 69 percent out of a hundred.

The movie is no typical supervillain movie. In fact, despite its original appearance, it’s not a supervillain movie at all. The movie takes place in the early 80s in Gotham. Our main character, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) begins the film in a psychiatric facility. It is clear he is extremely mentally unstable, but is later released into his mother’s custody. Unfortunately for Arthur, he has a neurological condition that causes him to break out in uncontrollable laughter at inconvenient times. Arthur’s dream throughout the movie is to become a T.V. host like his idol in the movie Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), but can only land his job of being a clown.

Director Todd Phillips did a great job in this film helping Phoenix mimic someone with severe mental illness, but is that really what people expected? In a scene early on, Arthur is outside twirling an advertisement banner when he was jumped by a group of teenagers and beat up. This isn’t the only form of bullying portrayed through the movie, Arthur is constantly being called names and being picked on.

After a while of being verbally and physically tortured it is clear Arthur’s laughing is becoming worse and he is slowly being broken down. Eventually a gun is purchased and the Joker’s love for revenge grows rapidly causing a slew of murders throughout the movie.

The movie not being a superhero movie was a bit misleading, but knowing beforehand what the movie is about may help change how it’s viewed. For people not familiar with mental illness, they could very well be in for a surprise. The cinematography in the movie, done by Mark Friedberg, showed some wonderful views of the cityscapes that were actually quite impressive. Phoenix’s performance as the Joker was incredibly strong. It did feel as if his character may have been a bit overdone with excessive laughing throughout the whole movie, but it did make it a bit more interesting. As far as other movies Phoenix acts in, you cannot compare this performance to his outstanding role as Commodus in Gladiator.

Throughout the movie there are numerous times you feel as if Arthur was going to snap, but he took the abuse quite well up until the shooting on the subway. The movie after the initial shooting then beings to become repetitive and unappealing as protestors begin dressing up as clowns which comes off as ridiculous. Why protect a murderous clown? Who knows? Although Fleck was not completely off with the storyline as it served a purpose of mental health awareness, but we lose that old supervillain Joker that everyone grew to love. Comparing the two movies is not even really possible except for that at times this new Joker movie was quite painful to watch.

Certainly, there were movie reviewers like The Guardian, who called this movie “the most disappointing film of the year”, but that doesn’t mean many people didn’t enjoy it. It is relatable on some level to those familiar with the ongoing mental health issues this world faces. It shows someone suffering after society has completely broken them down, and how he is freed from his darkest place by getting back at those who led him to such despair. This world is one full of rules that we all try and obey for the sake of being a good citizen, in the Joker’s role it shows that he is only happy and dancing around when he begins breaking those rules. This is true for many people, especially children who rebel to make themselves feel as if they have a purpose. That being said, this movie seemed to be very hit or miss for some people, but maybe this is the beginning of a new generation of films based on self-awareness.