MPAA Rating: R
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz
Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins
What It Is: Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) is a man who’s life isn’t exactly all that great. He and his mother live in abject poverty. He himself suffers from extensive mental illness. When he is attacked while doing his job as a clown he starts to lose faith in life. When he’s again attacked on the subway his humanity gives way to something far darker than he and anyone who knows him thought possible. Based on the DC Comics villain.
What We Think: This is a bleak and dark examination of the human psyche. It’s a peek into what drives a man to commit terrible acts. It’s also a film that sadly moves too often in half measures rather than full ones. Joaquin Phoenix is stellar, as always, and the rest of the cast acts up a storm. It’s too bad a lot of the dialogue they deliver wonderfully is so turgid. That takes away from the film on the whole. Whatever controversy may or may not be sparked by the films “content” I think that all of that is kind of nonsensical when you frame it against the film we have. No one and I mean NO ONE has said similar involving Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. A film from which this borrowed heavily. All the comparisons you’ve heard are obvious and worn on the sleeve of it.
Our Grade: B, I am of the belief that good art should inspire conversation. Given all the discussion around this (whether earned or not), this is good for the art. Todd Philips completely kills it as the director here even if his script is too often a derivative homage to much more well-rounded explorations of its themes. If you’d like a bit more insight into the storytelling in this checkout Cody’s article JOKER, A Lesson in Storytelling his understanding and subsequent explanation of the source material really nails it! Even if he proves kinder on the film. I certainly recommend it as it’s a different shade on the well-worn comic book movie formula. See it!