REVIEW - JOKER
SYNOPSIS - Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks -- the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he's part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz
It's hard not to compare this incarnation of Joker with all the others. And I'm going back as far as Cesar Romero's portrayal on the 1960's Batman TV series. As far as I'm concerned they've all been great in the Joker role. Romero, Nicholson, Ledger, Leto and Hamill. Yes, I said Hamill. However, Phoenix does something so unique and astonishing with this role, the others who have gone before are frankly, (I'm gonna catch heat for this) second best. Hear me out for a second! In all of Joker's incarnations we've seen on screen, we have never seen an origin story and character evolve in the way it's been portrayed in this film. Arthur Fleck's evolution from a troubled man with self-esteem issues to the maniacal clown prince of crime is a sight to behold. Phoenix is just phenomenal in this film. Todd Phillips has allowed him to breath new life into this character whilst drawing inspiration from movies such as Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy and Jonathan Demme's Silence Of The Lambs.
This is a slow burn, but it's deliberately done this way to witness Arthur's gradual transformation and to understand the full extent of his pain and insanity.
The supporting cast from Zazie Beets, Robert De Niro to Frances Conroy as Fleck's mother are all good respectively. All three play characters who contribute significantly to Fleck's mental state.
Phillips' departure from crass comedy (Hangover trilogy) to this dark psychological thriller is a welcome one and has defied doubters (including me) by showing us he has evolved as a filmmaker.
Overall Joker is a metaphorical, maniacal game changer of a comic book movie. It's Joaquin Phoenix's show and we've all paid the price of admission to watch it.