Joker Review: It’s No Laughing Matter…

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I left the cinema with a somewhat muted facial expression. This was by no means a reflection of how much I enjoyed Joker, because I certainly did. This is just one of those films that creatively and calculatedly forces you inward. This is a viewing experience that requires you to digest it all, slowly.  

When I saw the initial rave reviews for The Joker, I decided to limit my exposure to any opinions, trailers or thoughts concerning the film. I wanted a complete unbiased viewing experience not affected by prejudgment, or as close to that as I could get. 

Joker is delightfully dark, thought-provoking, layered and morbid. Right from the beginning scene viewers are thrown into uncomfortable territory in which we meet Arthur, a very troubled and complicated individual. Joaquin Phoenix’s imagining of “The Joker” brings depth and shading to the character that other iconic portrayals did not have the time to, his diminishing grip on reality and sanity is something to behold as he grasp the dwindling facets of his humanity loosely. Phoenix’s interpretation was vulnerable, pity provoking, sinister and violent, all at the same time. The descent from Arthur to “The Joker” is drawn out subtly and it is captivating to see how The Joker was before he became one of the most notorious villains in comic book history. Every body contortion, nervous tick, facial expression and mannerism from Joaquin created the collage of the pre Joker persona that made it plausible for him to become the Joker of present.

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You may have heard comments that this film is “extremely dangerous” but not for the initial main reasons you may think. It not due to any particularly gory scenes but the dense subject matter that is dealt with in Joker. Issues such as Mental Health, depression, the wealth divide, judgement of people, rebellion and anarchy are all prevalent in this film.  It forces watches to think about the communities we know, the results of funding being taken away and how this impact society. 

This was by no means your typical Comic book film and I mean that in the most positive way possible. It felt very much like a stand-alone prologue that can be enjoyed on its own with no tight relation to the Batman franchise besides thefeatures of Gotham and the Wayne family. You enter the theatre looking for the origin story of The Joker but leave having experience an intense psychological thriller underpinned with incredible acting, enthralling scenes, difficult introspection and vivid cinematography. 

In the same way Logan was pivotal for comic book films I see “Joker” as a statement film. It is a stellar breakaway from traditionally formatted comic book films that I hope to see much more of. The metaphors and allegories run deep across the film highlighting the importance of choices and the delicate balance of power.  

Final Thoughts 

Joker is just one of those films you HAVE to see. I feel it’s place in the comic book film hall of fame is already sealed. A dramatic departure from the usual format, Joker delivers the unexpected with poise, timing, suspense and nuance. This serious cinematic triumph is no laughing matter and if you don’t end up watching it…the jokes on you.

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