Hi, Plotaholics–Bryan here. I just walked out of the theater from seeing Joker. So, I submit to you, the Plotaholics Review of Joker. I want to specify and stress that this is a non-spoiler review…well as non-spoilery as I can make it. I am so pumped right now!
I want to get this out of the way right now: this is the Movie of the Year. To call this film a ‘Comic Book Movie’ is disrespectful to everyone involved. This film isn’t End Game, and thank God it doesn’t even think to try and be.
As soon as I walked out of the theatre, I texted my ex-wife. Here is how that went down:
Me: Bryan Jr. is never allowed to watch Joker.
Me: Take Heath Ledger’s Joker. Multiply him by 20. Then give him a Hard R rating.
That is exactly what this film is. Now, that doesn’t mean that Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is better than Heath Ledger’s. I would never disrespect these two geniuses by comparing them to each other. I will say this, though; Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is the Joker that we never realized just how badly we needed.
Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill man who longs to be a stand-up comedian that works as a clown. He lives with his physically ill mother Penny (played masterfully by Frances Conroy) whom he takes care of.
The film immediately asks the audience to sympathize with Fleck, while simultaneously demanding we fear him. We all know what’s going to happen, and if you’re anything like me, you find yourself actively searching for signs and clues of his descent into Jokerdom. The thing is, the signs are neon and flashing. The clues are written on 1st grade flash cards. The film isn’t trying to hide how it happens, the film knows that you know that Fleck is the Joker. The film is simply showing you HOW he becomes Joker, and it does an amazing job.
From the old school Warner Brother’s logo, to the gritty opening credits, to the soundtrack that is a mix of Frank Sinatra, Gary Glitter, and Cream, not to mention an amazing score by Hildur Guonadottir, you have one of the most disturbing, gritty, old school Scorcese-esque films of the year. This is a general observation–not just a comic book film-specific observation. Honestly, I didn’t think a film of this nature could even be made in today’s day and age. This is literally a throwback of those dark, gritty films of the late 70s/early 80s (Taxi Driver, etc.).
There are no weaknesses in this film. None. Not even a little bit. De Niro delivers on everything we’ve come to expect from him. You will wait the entire movie for De Niro and Phoenix to appear together on screen. When that moment finally comes, it isn’t disappointing.
Everyone that appears on screen alongside Phoenix matches his intensity, his method, his grace, and his power. Phoenix does what every single leading man should be able to do; he sets a bar and his co-stars rise to it.
I’m going to leave out any additional plot points. If you choose to go and see this film, I want you to go in only knowing what you already know: this is a Joker movie.
With that being said, please be smart! DO NOT TAKE CHILDREN! This movie is no-holds barred. This is a throwback, as I have already stated. This film does not pull punches, it doesn’t play nice, and IT IS NOT FOR KIDS! Remember what I said above to my ex-wife. This film takes Ledger’s Joker, amps it up, and then has ZERO qualms about using its R-Rating to the fullest extent.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best film based on a DC Comics property that has ever been released. If Joker does not win in its categories during awards season, then it’s a grave miscarriage of justice that I will be screaming about in anger for a long time.
By The Plotaholics rating system, I give this film a ZERO shot rating. Sit back. Enjoy it. Love it. Laugh. Cry. Be disturbed. Repeat. Or do like me and laugh.
Smile. Though your heart is aching. You may think it’s a thriller. But…it’s just a comedy.
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