I’ve liked Joaquin Phoenix ever since his brilliant performance in Ridley Scott’s much loved Gladiator (2000). I therefore had no doubt he’d deliver a truly memorable performance as Joker, Gotham City’s most iconic villain.
Watching Aurthur Fleck’s journey from social outcast to psychopathic murderer is a viewing experience I enjoyed for more than just Phoenix’s brilliant physical and emotional performance. Before Joker, I don’t think I’d truly paid attention to the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life. The clever use of this song, the film’s musical score and soundtrack is another key highlight.
Joker is undeniably a good film. Yet, for me personally, there is something about it that meant I found myself not particularly overly enthusiastic post viewing. One might even say that Joker is quite depressing because it’s almost ‘too real,’ when compared with what’s been happening in the US. Another reason it seemed something of a downer is the film’s heavy focus on people who are, to put it lightly, ‘unpleasant’. I of course understand director Todd Phillip’s reasons considering the nature of the story being told. Yet it’s never easy for me when the protagonist is also an anti-hero of the most insane and murderous kind, particularly when there’s no humour involved.
Overall, what I like most about Phillip’s film, is how well mapped Joker’s journey from victim to anti-hero is. From powerless to fully empowered and in control. From ‘how much more can he take?’ ‘Where can he go from here?’ to ‘There it is’. ‘The camel’s back has completely snapped and there’s no going back’
Lastly, I can’t deny that my colour loving self rather enjoyed the red suit, yellow vest, plus green shirt and hair look. Especially while Joker was on those famous stairs.
You’ve probably already seen it. If not, do it for Phoenix’s performance and all else that’s good about it.