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“Joker” Evil is as Evil Does




Review by John Delia

While other actors have come to the screen portraying the Joker in Batman movies, and they all have given excellent characters for the plot, the wait is over for one of the character’s most diabolical depictions ever. It’s equal to Heath Ledger’s reprehensible clown in The Dark Knight, but different. Enter the clown who scares, personifies, disrupts, enchants, and infuriates. Played by Joaquin Phoenix like no character he’s ever created in his career, it may be his door opener into the world of the DC Comics films.

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) has always wanted to be a stand-up comedian since childhood when he used laughter to fend off negativism in his household. Even now he carries the torch of comedy, but as a full make-up clown earning money by standing on a sidewalk in front of a business twirling a sign. It’s not an easy job as he takes a lot of ridicule and even being physically assaulted by young punks.

Joaquin Phoenix as the disgruntled clown in JOKER a Warner Bros. Film.

His main purpose for the future comes with taking care of his mother Penny (Frances Conroy) and putting his stand-up comedy act together. Having had some mental problems in the past he’s also seeing Debra (Sharon Washington), a social worker, once a month so he can keep receiving his meds. But, there’s super rats taking over Gotham City, the streets are riddled with trash, and there’s growing unrest involving the rich. In the face of this the Mayor has cut social services leaving Arthur on the verge of being pathologically dangerous.

It’s the beginning of a period that will find Arthur at odds with his boss, his career being put on hold once again, rebelling against society with an act of violence. and finding out a deep secret of his past. Directed and co-writer Todd Phillips films his movie with a lot of symbolism, social angst, and even metaphors to previous films like Taxi Driver and the violent movie The Purge. There’s no comedy here as it does take on the same darkness of Joker’s ominous movie The Dark Knight starring Heath Ledger in the role.

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in JOKER a Warner Bros. film.

It there’s a bright side to the film it’s Joaquin Phoenix who has to be commended for an outstanding performance of the evil clown. I like the way he develops Arthur Fleck from a buffoon that has hidden behind his crazed laughter, who turns into a killer by circumstance due to society’s lack of empathy, then a vengeance filled igniter of a social rebellion. It’s brilliant acting way beyond his past portrayals that had already earned him recognition. With Joker, Phoenix is a one man show.

Joker has a very sinister side to it that seethes with reckless violence and incites a good measure of upheaval against the hierarchy. Although there have been other films that jab at the wealthy, in those it was more of a poke. In this motion picture you can see a more disturbing swipe at the affluent adding fuel to the fire from the news media. It’s scary and the emotion lingers way after the credits roll and curtain comes down. The film may or may not have any influence on riotous behavior against society, but the film does lack repercussions in the movie for the violent actions of the participants in clown riots.

Zazie Beetz as Sophie in JOKER a Warner Bros. Film

Joker has been rated R by the MPAA for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images. It’s not for the meek or easily disturbed and especially unfavorable for immature moviegoers. It’s not Batman even though the Wayne’s are killed off again. Look for a sequel if Joker makes a lot of box office cash.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The performance by Joaquin Phoenix is worth watching. (3 out of 5 Stars) 

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Bret Cullen, Shea Whigham,
Directed and co-written by: Todd Phillips
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
MPAA Rating:  R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.
Opening Date: October 4, 2019
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Released in: Theaters with Dolby Atmos, SDDS, or Dolby Digital

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