This is a film review of The DC film Joker. Parental guidance UK: 15, US: R.
It is 1981 and there is civil unrest looming over Gotham City. Amid tension in the city slowly building up, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), an unfulfilled party clown and an aspiring comedian faces up to his family history as he juggles his mental illness while taking care of his elderly mother. As he battles his emotional turmoil and is left feeling invisible by society, he descends into a downward spiral of violent crime. In this alternative standalone pre-Batman era film, Arthur’s transformation into the iconic Joker is a deeply disturbing take on the Jokers origin story. The cast includes Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2) and Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under). The co-writer and director is Todd Phillips (The Hangover).
The Very Human Desire for Love and Kindness
The films major theme revolves around mental illness and how society fails to address people who slip through the cracks. This badly affects Arthur’s mental health which has been starved of love and kindness all his life. According to Phoenix, he was never sure what motivated Arthur, however, I argue that the running theme throughout the film is the very human desire for love and kindness. Arthur wants nothing more than to be seen and Pheonix masterfully portrays Arthurs descent into violent madness when his needs are never met.
Phoenix deeply immersed himself in the character and lost 52 pounds (24 kg) for the role. Arthurs transformation does not happen overnight, it is a rather slow process and Arthurs increasingly eerie and contorted body movements throughout the film hint at his disturbed mind, his body movements depict a sense of blissful carelessness as he is nudged deeper and deeper into nihilistic madness. Phoenix’s performance is raw and without a doubt the best of his career. This film is gutwrenching and thought-provoking and will be up for discussion for decades, so go see the film so that you will not be left out of the conversation.
Written by Anton Scheving