Joker Review

Skylar Sicilia

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The long-awaited Todd Phillips movie Joker finally hit theaters on October 4 and has
almost immediately been met with mixed reactions from viewers and critics alike. The movie
proves to be a shocking yet perceptive into the mind of a “mentally ill loner,” but Phillips does a
surprisingly good job in taking a neutral stance in a movie that could easily turn political with
such a sensitive issue.
But at face value, taking the movie for what it is, a movie and nothing more, Joker is a
brilliant character study of, arguably, the most iconic superhero villain in all of comic books. The
film follows Arthur Fleck’s story closely from his own perspective, allowing viewers to see the
world as he does: dark, dirty, and cruel, which in turn allows the audience to grow emotionally
attached (in a strange way) to someone who would normally not be sympathized with. These
attributes of the film are not only developed through the plot of the film but also the brilliant
cinematography and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, both of which prove to be Oscar-worthy.
As one critic put it, “Joker feels like a movie,” and this proves to be widely accepted with
emphasis on the cinematic experience of the film as well as the character study of Arthur Fleck
as opposed to the typical model that blockbuster comic book movies tend to follow. The only
scene that seems out of place is the recreation of perhaps the most iconic backstories in all of
comics when Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered in front of their son Bruce. In a first-
person narrative viewed from the eyes of Joaquin Phoenix’s character, the scene stands alone
as the only one to break this pattern and as a result feels almost forced as an obligation to
appease comic book fans.
However, some critics claim that Todd Phillips may have been too influenced by movies
such as Scorsese’s The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, the image of a clown-faced Arthur Fleck
firing a bullet through Murray Franklin’s (Robert De Niro) head on a nationally televised talk
show (not unlike The Jerry Langford show seen in The King of Comedy) seems to convey a very
powerful message that says “No, this is our movie,” which only emphasizes the fact that the
movie is truly one of a kind.
Rating: 9/10

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