Viewed – 08 October 2019. Cinema
I didn’t get the most positive impression upon seeing the trailer for this. Although I believed Joaquin Phoenix was an ideal casting for the clown prince of crime … the realistic approach and the fact the movie looked simply like a guy laughing a lot and acting a bit strange didn’t fill me with excitement. There’s more to Joker than being a clown and a bit of a weirdo … but thankfully having sat through this, such feats are swept aside as director Todd Phillips delivers precisely the origin story fitting to the iconic character.
Phoenix plays Arthur, a guy with more than a few mental problems, not helped by an over dependant mother, a thankless job as a street performer, hopeless aspirations to be a stand-up comedian and living in a city that doesn’t give a damn. However with a girl next door who catches his eye, not all is bad. That is until a series of events finds him sinking further into madness and eventually finding a confidence in himself – as the Joker is manifested. Welcome support comes from Robert DeNiro as a chat show host but this is clearly Phoenix’s show and despite (favourable) comparisons to Nicholson & Ledger, he somehow makes the character his own in a complex, at times heart-breaking – yet still menacing portrayal.
This can be seen as a snapshot of our current society. It’s a brave exploration of how the powers that be can create a monster. At the same time, the movie plays cleverly with the viewers interpretation of what is real and what is fantasised . In the closing moments this approach is almost its undoing but with very strong echoes of Taxi Driver and even Black Swan I still came away surprised and particularly impressed. A must-see.
Verdict: 5 /5
I’m wary of going to see this. Everyone is telling me its brilliant so it possibly is, but I adore Taxi Driver, it has been a favourite film of mine for decades. I’m just a tad irritated that this film seems to be ‘The Joker via Taxi Driver’. I can just imagine the pitch to the studio being literally just that. I can see it all over the trailer for the film.
It just feels…. maybe ‘cynical’ is too strong a word. To me Taxi Driver is a savage beautiful document of a time and place (1970s New York) that no longer exists and is just perfect. I’d hate someone to remake it or reboot it, and Joker feels just that. Hopefully I’m wrong, but it really has me feeling wary.
Then don’t compare it to Taxi Driver. Thematically there are similarities and the movie also has echoes of The King of Comedy. However it’s also doing its own thing. See it on that basis and hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
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