AN ARGUING WITH MYSELF REVIEW: JOKER
There’s the saying; “To really know someone, walk a mile in their shoes”. Joker centers around an origin, of sorts, of the Clown Prince of Crime. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
What happens when peers, society, “life” keeps knocking you down? Sometimes, it creates a monster. With this version of Joker, Arthur Fleck is shown as a creation of his surroundings long before his first encounter with Batman. It’s an unrelenting look at late 70’s New York, standing in as Gotham. A timely release, considering the political and social climates we’re currently experiencing. Just turn on the NEWS. You’ve seen it.
“It’s just another interpretation, like people do interpretations of Macbeth,” Phillips told The New York Times. Is it entirely original? Not, really but there are solid nods to films it tries to emulate. I looked at Joker as an Elseworld’s story, a stand-alone tale with zero continuity in the DCEU (if that’s even still a thing). The film’s influences are as blatant as a searchlight in the dark (k)night sky. And so’s this thinly veiled metaphor.
However, the success of the film is due in part to Joaquin’s performance. It lies squarely on his shoulders. Even with Mr. Phillips’ adept direction, if the audience can’t get behind Phoenix’s performance, the film fails. Luckily, their partnership gelled because it went from, questioning the validity of such a film to Oscar buzz for Phoenix.
Phoenix is fantastic as Arthur/Joker. His performance reminds me of another film of his called, ‘You Were Never Really Here’ from a couple of years ago. In essence, his portrayal of Joker was that of a sad clown, not knowing his purpose in this world but for all the actors that have donned the painted face, his is one of the ones that stands out. So, slap on your best grease-white, sit back and put on a happy face…Or at least TRY to.