This is a rather stunning, and disturbing look into mental illness. It does this while diving into the origins of the iconic DC character, the Joker. This is an individual that has often had a clouded past, and they absolutely fill in those blanks perfectly within this film. I would have thought that perhaps knowing more about who the Joker is might ruin the majesty, but it’s quite a journey.
You get to slowly see this man that just wants to be happy descend into absolute madness, and it’s glorious. At one point I was wondering where things were going, and that’s the joy of just how unpredictable this is. It’s also strangely relatable to modern society, as you see not only others fail this man, but the general system that should support him. Something that’s more possible within certain modern countries as opposed to others.
Moving past that, it’s a rather striking and hardcore series of moments. You get to see the uplift as a sense of purpose is found, and the effects it has on others. Not only those close, but the surrounding people and the society of Gotham. There’s also just a little bit of a connection to the universe of Batman, but not enough to really connect this to anything else. Which is a good thing.
This was beautifully shot, and that helped to build the almost swagger that the Joker delivers as he twists and breaks down to become his ultimate version. Not only was this well shot with some brightened scenes to elevate the character, it also truly brought a level of grunge to Gotham that we’ve only somewhat seen in the past.
The true stand out here is of course Joaquin Phoenix, the lead of the entire thing and the focal point of this character piece. There are of course others, but none of them quite matter like he does. This is his story, and whether or not any of their interactions were genuine, at the end of this he matters. The acting was just remarkable from him, and he goes all out in every situation. From the unsettling laugh, to his almost grotesque showcase he was amazing in this. It was also nice to see Robert De Niro in this as Murray Franklin, a late night host.
Joker will stun, disturb and delight as you watch this one well known character descend into absolute madness. What makes this take particular unsettling is the fact that this was the first real Joker. I say that in the sense, that this is a plausibly real individual. This could be an actual person in regular society, one that could be built up by the failings of everything around him.
This is someone that doesn’t necessarily lean into being an individual that is bad, it’s a series of outside forces that push this. I don’t believe I’ve really spoiled anything with what I’ve gone over, it’s something to witness for yourself. There are many surprising moments that were just of pure shock. They were something you could have perhaps seen coming, but when it strikes it still leaves a mark that runs deep.
I can’t believe they were able to deliver such a quality piece on what’s a single character within this very vast Batman universe. It’s an intimate, and standalone tale. At the same time, this is the sort of truly dark world of despair that I’d actually really like to see pushed forward. The twisted things this take could do, are things I’m not sure the other versions would ever be able to produce.
Joker Review at Theater with Standard Viewing