JOKER: Worth The Watch?


Todd Phillips’ Joker was recently released in theaters, and has caused quite a stir. From riots to fights, the DC villain has been the roots of mayhem lately. However, what caused the sudden violence in theaters across the country?


For one, it is violent. Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the madman is stunning in many ways, including the scenes where he kills and beats objects and people. As he descends into madness, finding out more and more about his past, the movie progressively gets more violent as the man formerly known as Arthur Fleck becomes sadder and angrier at the world and everyone in it. Those aspects are amazing, looking very real and makes you wonder if Phoenix is not acting.


The overall feel of the movie is very uncomfortable and unsettling, from Arthur’s body and movements to the scenery. This is how the viewer should feel, scenes showing how strange he is makes you squirm, but want to keep watching. The storylines alternate, and while there is a feel of dragging on for a regular, two hour movie, you think that Phillips could have cut it down, yet all the information was vital to the story and it would not feel the same without them. Everything eventually comes together, but it certainly feels like it takes longer than it should to finish the journey. The film starts to look up and get better in the back half, once Arthur dyes his hair green and talks to his former “work-buddies” in his apartment. Otherwise, it was a lot of him sitting around and laughing.


Phoenix’s performance was amazing, but certainly not the absolute masterpiece some made it out to be. However, it was far from the “worst thing” to come out this year, as other critics said. His take on Joker’s laugh is annoying at first, but it grows on you throughout the movie and eventually becomes exactly what you would imagine it to be. Phoenix said he studied people with the same disease Fleck has, Pathological Laughter or Crying, to perfect his laugh. The makeup is not ideal, but most of it was for his failed-clown act and by the end, it is smudged and looks a bit better. The way he moves is spot-on, as well, he finds a way to make it awkward yet smooth and interesting, it gets you thinking about both Fleck and Phoenix’s thought processes when deciding to move certain ways.


The directing by Todd Phillips is average, but the set buildings look like they could belong in the real world. He definitely earned the R rating as far as content and Phoenix’s acting goes, but his camera work is just okay. The cinematography is beautiful, but some angles and scenes are just plain boring or uncomfortable to watch (Phoenix’s acting does not contribute to this aspect.)


All in all, Joker is average and Phoenix’s portrayal is not the best of the ensemble including him, Jared Leto, Heath Ledger, Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Cameron Monaghan, and Mark Hamill, but it is certainly not the worst. His performance is not Oscar-worthy, but Phoenix deserves the recognition he has been getting lately.