Joker is a twisted masterpiece. Go watch.


Jillian Breen, Writer

Although Todd Phillips’ Joker may be receiving backlash and criticism for its off-putting take on the infamous D.C. super villain, Phillips was able to create a masterful in-depth character analysis of Arthur Fleck, the soon-to-be Batman arch enemy, slowly progressing into insanity.

In terms of tone and feel, this movie highly succeeds. Phillips managed to make the entire movie have an almost unbearable unsettling feel. This tone paired with Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar worthy performance fully submerges the audience into the mind of Arthur Fleck. Camera angles seemed to be played around with as well, with many of the shots using a manual operator, which gives a very home-made and anxiety ridden feel.

By far the best part of this movie is Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. Joker perfectly tip toes between the line of empathy and disgust due to his violent tendencies accompanied by his sorrow filled life. At the start of the film, you feel for Arthur due to his constant beat downs, laughing attacks, and general isolation from society. However, when his true self starts to become revealed, you no longer can feel empathy for him due to the decisions he makes; you want to feel for him, knowing it could’ve been different. This is a very different approach to the typical good guy- bad guy cliche many superhero movies find themselves in. Joker is trying it’s absolute hardest to make you feel bad for Arthur; creating a very conflicting logic in the audience’s mind.

Mental illness also plays a very big role in this movie. Unlike Heath Ledger’s very outlandish and terror-esque portrayal, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance tells the tale of the beginning of ‘the Joker’ and what made Arthur Fleck become the monster he does. This is where critics will debate if Phoenix’s performance holds up to Ledger’s. I believe both performances take two completely different routes, however in terms of in-depth character analysis, Phoenix was able to portray the inner workings of why Arthur was the way he was in a much more expressive and complex manner. Each scene feels as though you are there with Arthur, watching his mind slowly deteriorate into madness. Phillips was able to incorporate a very sensitive and stigmatized topic into his movie without further stigmatizing it, because although Arthur is mentally ill and kills people, it is not portrayed as though one caused the other or vise versa. 

Joker is by far one of the best movies of 2019. From is eerie and perfectly unsettling cinematography to the thrilling score, I highly recommend watching. It manages to do something a lot of movies fail to do, it is genuinely encapsulating and thrilling from start to finish.