Published on October 2nd, 2019 | by gareth0
Here is my audio review. I will have the print one up later.
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a broken and troubled man. Arthur toils in as demeaning and berated Clown for Hire, and lives with his troubled mother in a dilapidated apartment.
Arthur meets with a Social Worker in an attempt as the seven medications he takes simply are not cutting it and he struggles to cope in a world that has ignored and discarded him.
Arthur dreams of being a comedian but sadly lacks the confidence and ability to pull off his material which is iffy at best. Undaunted he keeps toiling away even when life continues to beat him down mentally and physically.
This all changes when Arthur stops being the victim during and assault and fights back.
Arthur stops taking his medication and becomes more determined and is no longer afraid to confront those who antagonize him.
This leads Arthur to some renewed opportunities such as an appearance on a talk show which he has long idolized.
All of this happens against a smoldering Gotham City where tensions are high and rising even higher due to a Garbage strike and a perception that the elite of the city have abandoned those in need such as eliminating Arthur’s Social Worker due to budget cuts.
With nowhere to go but up; Arthur transforms from a disturbed individual to a violent and deeply disturbed and dangerous individual who is angry and ready for revenge.
Phoenix is fantastic and he is not afraid to let unglamorous scenes of his very thin body or lingering close ups at unflattering angels undermine him. He uses them to illustrate just how disposable Arthur is too many in the film and to also show how little he cares about such matters. The role is deeply dark and disturbing and will no doubt spark much controversy and debate ranging from making a dangerous person a sympathetic figure as well as commentary about class structure and the danger of unstable people inspiring others via a Cult of Personality.
There is a connection to the larger Batman universe even though the film is light on action and FX. This is a character study of a decent into madness and it is deeply disturbing as it is compelling
4.5 stars out of 5
Second review by Tracey Barrientos
Joaquin Phoenix superbly portrays the character of Arthur Fleck. Fleck is a mentally ill, poverty-stricken, clown for hire by day and aspiring/failed stand up comedian by night. In this gritty standalone story based from the 1988 graphic novel: Batman: The Killing Joke, one very thoughtless decision begins a chain reaction of crazy events in deeply disturbed man .
Fleck has not lived an easy life. He is an only child whom has cared for his ailing mother in a small dingy apartment in Gotham’s broken society devoid of empathy and full of mental health stigma. He suffers from a neurological illness known as PBA (Pseudo Bulbar Affect) causing him to laugh uncontrollably during inappropriate moments. In my opinion this was the smartest decision that Phoenix made for his portrayal of The Joker. There definitely would be no Joker without that iconic laugh and he does it the best. This illness though has caused Fleck to live a life of ridicule and become the butt of all the jokes.
While sitting through the credits I overheard a gentleman jokingly say to his wife that he should probably schedule an appointment to visit his therapist after viewing the film. The film is intense and is the first film in the Batman franchise to receive an R rating and rightfully so. The metamorphosis that Arthur Fleck goes through is quite disturbing. It felt as if this original character study became more of a believable story than what audiences are used to seeing on screen or reading within the franchise. Joker is placed in a more relatable atmosphere, though set in the early eighties it felt in some areas quite modern. Even with the muted colors in the background and the old school soundtrack I felt that there was something quite modern about the film.
Arthur Fleck had fallen through the cracks of the fractured health system that had failed him, it had left him without a social worker and the proper help to keep his crazy at bay.
After being the joke for his entire life and becoming the Joker with a newly found confidence we must ask ourselves…who’s laughing now??