Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) : Canada | USA

Reviewed by Kaio Farkouh.

As I walked off the movie theater I felt like I needed a hug! Writer-Director Todd Phillips, “The Hangover”, dives into this depressing and dark Gotham City with one the most well-known characters of all time.

Joaquin Phoenix, the three times academy award nominee, plays Arthur Fleck aka Joker. FLeck works as a clown, and try to make a career out of stand-up comedy. He is a character that wants to bring joy and happiness to people’s lives, as his mother says to smile and put on a happy face. As it starts off, we see our main character getting ready to work, as he steps out of his building and walks through Gotham city. Through the lenses of the cinematographer Lawrence Sher, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and the score by Hildur Guðnadóttir, we see a completely dirty, depressing, and scary Gotham city. A city that lost his way and still trying to find a way out of this despicable and chaotic state. Phoenix seems to have fun, and enjoy his work, until a group of teenagers approached him, steal his board and by the end of the scene you find his character on the ground, knocked out by the guys.

It is by them that our character starts to notice something weird in this city, rather not the city, but the people who live in it. As the story progresses you see a character that suffers from a condition that he can not stop laughing, and others related to mental illness. A city that is based on lies, lies by the ones who run the city, a rage inside of Phoenix’s starts to grow. The actor delivers one of the best performances of the year, a performance-driven by rage, injustice, bullying. Phoenix gives an emotional, physical and powerful performance by a guy that is tired and sick by the upper society.

Fleck’s rage is not a rage that comes against individuals but a society that is corrupt, he is not facing a man, but he is facing a system. His mom has hope that Thomas Wayne interpreted by Brett Cullen, who is running for mayor will change the city. However, Fleck has no hope whatsoever if not going against the system. And it is by when he commits to turning himself into the Joker as we know. Fleck has a good point here, but it is how the movie shows us that is not right. His indignation is driven by a force of no political relation, and his character represents the anarchism. And by the middle of the movie, you will get yourself on his side. Almost trying to justify his murders and chaos that he brings to Gotham.

“Joker” is depressing, dark and a study of a character. A character that is changed by the high society and the injustices in his reality. With a tremendous performance by Phoenix, beautiful cinematography that reflects this chaotic Gotham and a score that brings even more sadness to this world. This is a movie that speaks to our daily days, however, the Joker might not be the “hero” that we would want to have.

GRADE: 3.5/5

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