‘Joker’ Movie Review

Fourth Estate / Billy Ferguson

 Joaquin Phoenix shines in supervillian thriller


After the waves of controversy surrounding  surrounding “Joker,” the film was released on Oct. 4. Because of the 2012 Aurora, Colo. theater shooting that happened during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” some theaters were concerned for viewers’ safety — so much so that people were searched at the doors. Although controversy  heavily encompassed this film, Joaquin Phoenix delivers one of the great performances of 2019. 

Phoenix stars as the title character. I can’t help but notice his impeccable acting range in everything from “Gladiator” to “Walk the Line,” both movies for which for which he received Academy Award nominations. “Joker” is proving to be one of his best roles yet.

Phoenix lost 52 pounds to play the role, which caused him to look like a near skeleton in the film. This only adds to the creepy factor, amplified by his perfect psychotic laugh, erratic movements and, of course, his clown makeup. 

Everything related to the cinematography of the film was amazing. Director Todd Phillips knew exactly how to show the spiral of madness the Joker is going down, from a concussive scene on a train to a dance scene in a public restroom.

Other characters included Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz) and Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy). The other actors in “Joker” were great, but Phoenix was definitely the focus. 

In many ways, this film feels like a play, with the score adding much to that effect. The already famous stairs scene feels like it was taken straight from a Broadway performance.  No spoilers, but the film ends triumphantly, reminding me of the ending of the “Whiplash,” directed by Damien Chazelle. 

The movie has many characteristics of a typical superhero origin movie. Then, it devolves and turns the trope entirely on its head. The film doesn’t try to make the viewer sympathize with the Joker, but there are some scenes where you can’t help but understand the character’s actions. 

The main charm of this movie is the disgust you feel for the main character. Phoenix takes this character to the extreme so fast that you hardly have time to register whether he was always like this — or if society brought it out in him. 

Once the credits start rolling and you leave the theater, it takes some time to process what just happened. When the controversial dust settles, I think we can start truly appreciating this movie.