If there's one thing about the Batman franchise that is as iconic as the hero himself is his villains. Whether you grew up in the 60s, 90s, or 2000s, you've seen Batman's foes on TV and in the movies. You can probably name quite a few of them, but there's one that seems to stand out in every iteration of Batman, no matter the generation--the clown prince of crime, the Joker. Due to his incredible popularity, he's got his very own movie, and it's no laughing matter.
The movie is centered around Arthur Fleck, a mentally challenged clown actor who is trying his best to take care of himself and his mother in the grime of Gotham City. As the title implies, this is an origin story for the iconic comic book character, and we see the tragic downfall of this man in desperate need for help. Through this tragedy, we see political commentary on the powers above the downtrodden and the abuse that society can bring to those in need of help. It's a thought-provoking piece, and hopefully it encourages someone to help a stranger. It doesn't seem to justify the actions of the Joker. I believe the point is to make him better understood. After all, criminals don't just wake up one day and think, "You know, I think I'm going to be a crime lord." It starts somewhere, and it usually starts in a dark place, much like we see in movies like The Godfather, Scareface, and the like. Sometimes to understand how to fix societal problems, we need to look at the stories of criminals and see what causes them to do what they do. Joker does this marvelously and is a remarkably well-made film.
Outside of the artful and carefully crafted shots, this movie would not be near as good as it is with Joaquin Phoenix. Everything from his body movements to his laugh was played out disturbingly well. He made the laugh so uncomfortable to watch sometimes, and that is something no other actor had been able to do before in the role. The way he danced, smiled, and looked at people seemed so random yet finely tuned, so intricate yet complicated. Watching him on screen was fascinating. His decisions on how to act out the character were artistic, like one of those splattered paintings in a museum. It seems so random and distorted, but at the same time, it seeps into your soul and speaks to you in a unique way. I commend, Phoenix, and his performance in this movie. I can't even imagine to physically and mental toll it took to do what he did.
The Joker is a movie not for the faint of heart, but it is one with something to say. It's well crafted, well acted, and asks some questions about society. This is a comic book movie that doesn't want you to enjoy the ride. It wants you to see reality through its dark filter, and maybe, just maybe, bring about a small flicker of light through us.
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