Since his comic book debut in Batman issue 1 in 1940, The Joker has been the caped crusader’s most iconic adversary. Many actors have offered their unique interpretations of the character, including Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, an Oscar-winning Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill, Jared Leto and more. Everyone has their favourite too, making for very big clown shoes to fill...
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker is an origin story, separate from the current DC extended universe. Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck (a nod to Ben Affleck perhaps), an aspiring stand up comedian who currently works as a clown for hire. Daily life on the streets is brutal, with violence never far away.
Review by: Sarah O'Connell
Review Date: 2nd October 2019
Rating out of 5:
With a troubled past, Arthur also has a condition that causes him to spontaneously laugh, often at the most inopportune times. Caring for his mother (Frances Conroy), Arthur does what he can to provide for her. Though the class divide between the impoverished Gotham slums and riches of the likes of Thomas Wayne heightens tensions in Gotham city.
Arthur’s descent into villainy and chaos echoes a line from graphic novel ‘The Killing Joke’: “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” He certainly has his fair share of those.
With definite shades of Taxi Driver throughout, its fitting that Robert De Niro plays Murray Franklin, a TV chat show host that Arthur aspires to meet. Neighbour Sophie (Zazie Beetz) also brings out another side of him, as Arthur tries to make an impression.
Joaquin Phoenix is both unsettling and mesmerising throughout, with every detail seemingly doubling as Oscar bait. While not packed with Easter eggs like typical DC or Marvel releases, there are still nods to Batman lore. While a self-contained origin story, there’s plenty to build upon should the cast and crew return in the future.
A dark and disturbing character study (especially In the current climate), Joker will stay with you long after the end credits roll. Perhaps whether you want it to or not.