REVIEW: ‘Joker’ makes its way as a stand-alone film

“Joker” was released Oct. 3. One of the most anticipated films this year was made by co-writer and director Todd Philips and stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck. 

Going into this movie, I did not know what to expect. The trailers did not show important scenes so I was skeptical of the direction this movie was going to take. Specifically, when it came to the level of violence.

Months before the release of the film, there was discussion about the film’s potential to incite violence in the real world. There have been reports of cities tightening security in cinemas for opening night because of controversial topics surrounding the movie. The movie romanticizes a clown with personal issues going on a killing rampage and almost seeks the viewers’ empathy. Therefore, law enforcement was receiving several warnings for mass shooting threats. 

(Eduardo Rangel | The Poly Post)

Regarding violence from this movie, there isn’t much. This movie does not glorify violence or portray it as the means to an end in the real world. If you’re squeamish, I think this movie will be tolerable. The level of violence is moderate, but the shock factor can be very intense. Many scenes are unsettling because the character is a broken man, and questions about his mental state are constantly brought up.  

 The tone of the movie brings out the vices and the resentments of Arthur Fleck, or the Joker. The movie does a good job of hinting the capabilities of Arthur’s dark side. At times, we may feel sympathy for the character, but because of his tendencies, it’s hard to side with him. The movie’s tone does its job in separating the man we know as Arthur from his more unraveling dark side; to the point where we are not sure if he’s lost or is still in control of his thoughts or temperaments. There are moments in this movie that brilliantly showcase the answer to “Why is the Joker the way he is?” But these scenes may be hard to watch for some viewers. The tone also goes hand in hand with the score. The same musical score can be heard in specific scenes that is meant to cause shock value. This sets up for an unsettling scene or realization.

Speaking of what makes this movie great, Phoenix does an awesome job playing Arthur Fleck. Phoenix brilliantly portrays a man beaten by society in just about every aspect. The character has a condition where he laughs uncontrollably, sometimes at the most inappropriate time. This detail exemplifies Joaquin as THE Arthur Fleck, as he expresses a deranged character who many people may not associate with. What Phoenix brings to Arthur and to the Joker is unique and fresh. Every actor in this movie was terrific. Robert DeNiro was great in the screen time he had; Brett Cullen played a good Thomas Wayne. A lot was asked of them and they delivered.

Speaking of the different aspects of what makes this movie great, it also gives focus to the city of Gotham, and it sets the scene involving certain characters. The movie can feel like it’s set in a dystopian city with many run-down buildings and dirty streets riddled with crime. While praising other details, the set was great; the cinematography was impeccable. The movie felt like it belonged in a certain time frame but doesn’t give much background information as to when exactly, just clearly in the past.

Overall, I was impressed by the direction of the movie. The movie did enough to be unique and the execution made a thrilling conclusion to a stand-alone film.

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