I don’t really want to review Joker; it’s been out for over a week already, and many people much more talented than I have said everything there is to say about this film. Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is something of a character study set in 1980’s Gotham City, where a man named Arthur Fleck, a professional clown and failed stand-up comedian, begins a subtle and dark turn as his life starts to erode from under him.
That last sentence sounds very derivative of maybe a hundred reviewers on YouTube so, I won’t waste much more of your time with my “take” on the movie. All I can do is tell you what I loved about Joker. I loved that this film felt real. I won’t go into the amount of bullshit surrounding this film that was started by a bunch of angsty writers that consider themselves warriors brandishing keyboards and iPhone’s, because at this point, the film have made well over three hundred million dollars at the worldwide box office, so I don’t have to defend this film.
But as I said before, I love how real this film felt to me. I loved how I didn’t want to identify at all with Arthur, but I recognized him. I recognized the look a pesron has when they feel that no one notices them. I understand how it feels to think that all you have are negative thoughts. That was the beauty of this movie, as soon as I thought I could identify, just a bit with the movie’s “protagonist”, it threw a curve ball at me. Every time, I felt I understood just a little bit more about Arthur Fleck, I would suddenly be reminded that this is a movie about the flippin’ Joker.
But this is why I feel that this movie felt real to me, it surprised me in ways that a lowly “comic book” movie, hasn’t in many, many years. I’m not ripping into any film or franchise here, but I feel that as more an more movies based on comic books come out, and the more and more our eyeballs are lacerated with cgi constructs that are aiming to replace real people, puppets, miniatures or (sometimes) whole swaths of land, it’s just lovely to see a film that lives and dies on the performance of the actors found within it. I hope we see more movies like Joker. Not grim and dirty depictions of human life, but just more movies that truly believe in the power of the people in front of and behind the camera, and not the power of post-production.