By Luke Onoroto ‘20
With DC having a rough history in the box office (to say the least), all eyes were placed on “Joker” for DC’s next big break. DC simply could not afford to flop again, especially with such an iconic character.
This latest installment of the DC cinematic universe did not disappoint in the slightest.
Not only did “Joker” meet my high expectations, it surpassed them. Director Todd Phillips submerges the viewer in the dark dismal world that is Gotham, crime plagues the streets and poverty follows close. This environment is all Arthur Fleck, the Joker, knows.
Arthur has not had a redeeming moment in his life, and the movie makes that fact very apparent. He is a mentally ill clown that lives with his mother, and he suffered abuse as a child. On top of this, society also abuses Arthur; he gets attacked in public and ridiculed by strangers. All of this pressure adds up and eventually pushes Arthur off the deep end, changing him into who we know as “the Joker.”
The film does an excellent job as an origin story for the Joker; every scene is a small piece that fits into a big puzzle, with the big picture being the birth of the Joker as a character. I was captivated as I watched Arthur slowly but surely lose his mind and morph into an evil and maniacal villain, something that would not be possible without Joaquin Phoenix’s masterful acting.
This movie is not for the faint of heart either. It has no problem showing graphic images of violence and death, and scenes are jaw-droppingly gruesome. While scenes like these may not be appealing to most viewers, they definitely are necessary to shed light on how evil a character Arthur becomes.
These violent scenes also happened to spark controversy throughout the media. Many judged the film for glorifying violence and promoting a pessimistic view of society. This movie does the exact opposite. It is made very clear that Arthur is in no way a character with even slightly positive qualities. It is true that Arthur’s actions are driven by the evils of society, but they are also driven by his extreme mental illness as well. It is also true that the Joker is shown almost in a heroic manner in some scenes, but those scenes are meant to show how much influence he has over Gotham by the end, not to inspire people to act in a similar way as Arthur.
Overall, I strongly recommend this film. Joaquin Phoenix’s impeccable performance combined with Todd Phillips’ genius directing make for an absolutely worthwhile watch.