STARRING: JOAQUIN PHOENIX, ROBERT DE NIRO, ZAZIE BEETZ, BRETT CULLEN, FRANCES CONROY, AND SHARON WASHINGTON
DIRECTOR: TODD PHILLIPS
DATE: OCTOBER 4, 2019
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has struck once again with another hit with its most realistic portrayal and darkest film to date, Joker. From its opening weekend alone, the film earned $96 million at the box office setting a new record for an October release. Outside of films and television series, DC Comics are known for having dark and serious storylines, particularly in their Batman related stories. Taking inspirations from the comics and Martin Scorsese films as well, the DCEU have made something truly special both for the fans and critics to enjoy. If the film continues to do well, more standalone villain movies could be in the works.
Joker begins in 1980’s Gotham City, where the upper class are at an all time high and lower class are at an all time low. The opening scene shows a man named Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) putting on his makeup for his day job as a party clown. As he is applying the makeup, he forces himself to smile while shedding a single tear because he has never experienced being naturally happy on his own. The scene cuts to Arthur in his clown outfit with a sign to advertise a store, then all of a sudden, a group of teenagers steals his sign and runs off with it. As Arthur chases them down a dark alley, one of them hits him with the sign by surprise and the rest of the teens proceed to beat him while he’s down.
After he recovers, Arthur is seen talking with his social worker, Debra Washington (Sharon Washington) in her office. Since she is aware that he has a mental illness, she meets with him weekly to see how he’s doing, gives him medication, and tells him to write in a journal about his feelings. However, instead of writing about how he feels, he uses the journal to write jokes because he aspires to become a stand-up comedian. The scene cuts to Arthur on a bus going home entertaining a child with his facial expressions, but the mother tells him to stop. As Arthur stops entertaining the child, he suddenly starts to laugh uncontrollably which is a poignant moment in the film.
When Arthur makes it back home to his rundown apartment complex, he is about to take the elevator to his floor, when he hears a woman’s voice shouting to stop it from closing. He manages to stop the elevator and the woman was his neighbor, Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz) and her young daughter. As the two go back to their separate apartments, Arthur greets his elderly mother (Frances Conroy) and they watch their favorite talk show host, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Nearly all of his life Arthur has been disrespected and abused by society as whole. After years of so much neglect, he will finally reach his breaking point because of one bad day.
Joker is by far one of the best films of the year. It is a true character study on the beloved comic book character. The portrayal of the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ was sympathetic, yet haunting, making it very unique. The film did the character justice by not relying too much on the Batman mythology. It was a perfect else world’s story that the DCEU should explore more in the near future.
Joker receives 10 stars out of 10 stars.