“Joker” Review

Michael Burns, Reporter

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From the director of “The Hangover” series, and “War Dogs”, comes Todd Phillips’sJoker”. The film stars Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix, as the infamous villain, with the rest of the cast composing of Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin (a talk show host), Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond (Arthur’s love interest), and Francis Conroy as Penny Fleck (Arthur’s mother). Everyone associated with the production of “Joker” deserves a round of applause — if it wasn’t for their dedication, determination, and craft, “Joker” wouldn’t be as good as it is.  

Brianna Keller
“Joker” has earned $201 million dollars thus far at the box office.

The film follows Arthur Fleck (the Joker), and his descent into madness. This isn’t like any other comic book movie – this is a character study. There’s not a single scene without Arthur’s unhinged presence. Phoenix does an incredible job portraying a mentally ill, stand-up comedian dismissed by society. Alongside an amazing script, his performance highlights Arthur’s unpredictability. If the film casted a different actor, it wouldn’t have packed as big of a punch.

Director, Todd Phillips had the bravery to take risks most filmmakers wouldn’t. His experience in the film industry, and his distinct direction allowed him to make, in my opinion, his best movie to date. Phillips allowed Scorcese films to influence his approach to “Joker.” Throughout the movie there’s vibes from “Taxi Driver” (1976), and “King of Comedy” (1982), and that’s not a bad thing. Phillips has a unique vision that sets “Joker” apart from most character studies. 

Controversy has held a dark cloud over “Joker” ever since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Certain audiences called the film “ultraviolent” and “dangerous.” 

The violence displayed in “Joker” is mild, and we’ve seen substantially more violence in the “John Wick” series, and many other action blockbusters. “Joker” doesn’t glorify violence either, it’s used to convey Arthur Fleck’s immoral reality, not as something we should applaud. This isn’t the first film to focus on a disturbing antihero, nor is it the darkest. “Joker” is being blown out of proportion. 

“Joker” is a groundbreaking film that audiences need to watch.  Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, composed an exceptional score that threads the film into what it is. Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix did an incredible job telling the Joker’s origin. Phoenix deserves a nomination for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck, in which he took risks many wouldn’t. I give “Joker” an A+, thanks to its cast, and superbly written script.