Excessive, violent, disturbing. Joker brings together, as a movie, all the attributes that we associate with his main character: the Joker of the DC comics, recreated with mastery by Joaquin Phoenix. The film, released on October 4 in theaters, should be seen at least to witness the performance of Phoenix, an interpretive tour de force, which reproduces the uninterrupted descent into the hells of the crime of a person afflicted by severe psychiatric problems.
You can watch it online to find out the amazing story we're talking about, it's full of psychological issues and social criticisms that reflect the sickness and the bad seeds of the society we live in, and that many times we prefer to ignore. Basically, the movie shows why the Joker isn't anything else than just a sick product of an equally sick world.
If the Joker by César Romero and Jack Nicholson is camp, and Heath Ledger represents anarchy, the Phoenix Joker is that of a tortured character, which at times inspires commiseration for his inability to deal with violence and contempt of society. It is as if director Todd Phillips - also the author of the script along with Scott Silver - proposed that it was a society that created a monster like the Joker.
It is when Joker wants to be sobering and make a statement of principles about the indifference of society that the film fails. Its strength and originality lie in how the skillfully structured script plays with the viewer's perception and immerses them in the madness of the Joker. There is the greatness of Joker: in that it offers a story of the origin of the character that looks fresh and vital, human and entertaining, disproportionate and disturbing.
Already from the credit titles, with the Warner Bros. Pictures logo in the 70s of the last century, it is clear that Joker draws on the films of that decade, with a Gothic City that is a faithful copy of the city of New York of those years, with garbage in the streets, pornographic movie theaters on 42nd Street and vandalized subway cars.
In particular, two titles look like obvious references: Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1982), both directed by Martin Scorsese. In both films, Robert De Niro plays alienated, obsessive characters, with fixations on other people. Joker is a spiritual sibling of these films, so its story recreates the same era of the late 70s. It is impressive to see the level of detail of the sets and costumes. Just look at any extra and it is amazing to see that they seem taken from a time machine.
Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a clown who wants to be a stand-up comedian and who attends his convalescent mother. It is a solitary and routine life, from which the seams of the mental health of the character soon begin to be seen. One of the few amusements Fleck finds in his life is watching the late television show by host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro).
It's good not to know more than those thick brushstrokes of the story when watching the movie. Joker includes many small references to cartoons and the figure of Batman on TV and cinema. It is a very well edited and photographed film, with effective use of its soundtrack - each song used right on the target - and the production design. Joker is a great movie, although it fails when the Joker tries to explain his actions. Except for that detail, it is an intelligent film, very well thought out and produced, with a performance by Joaquin Phoenix that arouses admiration and will be commented on for years to come, watch now the movie to be amazed by its emotional and psychologic deepness.