“Joker” is No Laughing Matter: A Review

Ryan Fredrick, Reporter

“Joker” is a monumental step forward for film. The film explores a fascinating exploration of a man that is fractured beyond repair. A standalone movie that is separate from any other DC movie, “Joker” was directed by Todd Phillips, most known for the “Hangover” trilogy. However, “Joker” will not be giving any laughs, just an extremely disturbing view of a man who was shunned from the rest of the world. 

This movie is cinematically beautiful. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher gave a gritty yet beautiful depiction of Gotham audiences have never seen before. With such dark colors throughout the film, when anything with colors comes into frame, it draws attention. 

Throughout the film, a standalone movie that is separate from any other DC movie, featured Arthur Fleck – aka the Joker – played by Joaquin Phoenix. Fleck danced a lot, and every time he would dance, it was breathtaking. The dancing was not phenomenal by any stretch of the imagination, but it let the audience in on Fleck’s mindset. Some dances were disturbing, because of the events prior, but some were gratifying because they showed the character coming into his own. Phoenix took the dance scenes to another level with his acting, letting the audience into the psyche of a psychopath. 

The score and sampled music for “Joker” was breathtaking. Jimmy Durante’s “Smile” fits the aesthetic of the movie perfectly, while Hildur Guðnadóttir’s “Call Me Joker” offsets it with its sad melody and slow tune. Finally Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” is in the famous “stair-dancing” scene in the trailer to show Joker coming to accept his alter-ego.

Despite the cinematography and staging, the movie would be nothing if Phoenix did not give such awe-inspiring performance. His disturbing portrayal enhances the atmosphere of the entire movie for the better. Moving deeper than Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker in “Suicide Squad” Pheonix’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime is refreshing and highly needed. His performance helped show the themes of the movie of wealth distribution, mental health and a society that does not care for you flawlessly. 

Speaking of themes, the ones in this movie are very obvious. It was clear from the beginning that “Joker” focused on mental health and classism. Films that beat around the bush when it comes to what they want the audience to take from it tend to confuse audiences. There is nothing confusing about this message, with Joker saying during the climax, 

“What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that treats him like trash? I’ll tell you what you get. You get what you… deserve!” 

This film makes the audience feel empathy for a psychopath, and that is something that is hard to do. Fleck does so many awful and disturbing things that many would consider evil, but with Phoenix’s performance and the vivid depiction of what he has been through, it is hard to not feel sorry for him. As the audience, you are supposed to understand, not identify with Fleck. While the mainstream media tears this film to shreds, saying that it promotes violence, is the straight white male’s fantasy, or that it over glorifies violence and destruction, many are praising it for bringing forth issues that many people never realized were so massive.