Film review: The Joker

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The Joker face pull

After watching ‘A Star is Born’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in 2018, I thought 2019 would be a year lacking of cinematic masterpieces. I stand corrected.

When I went into the cinema I was expecting a gory horror, with loads of jump scares, which would leave me deeply disturbed.

Only the latter was true, but I was disturbed for another, even more pressing, reason: the director Todd Phillips held a blood-stained mirror up to mental health, society, and its flaws.

In an Entertainment Tonight interview with Phillips, he says that he doesn’t respond to the many conspiracy theories people have come up.

He says he doesn’t “want to hamper other peoples experiences” and believes people can view the film in many different ways is what “makes the movie interesting”.

Which I utterly agree with.

The JokerJoaquin Phoenix, who is the latest to play The Joker, echoed this when he said in a Popcorn with Peter Travers interview that everyone has a different reaction to the film.

“That’s what I like about the movie,” he said. “(It) doesn’t tell you what to feel and when, which is rare in movies”.

And on people’s reaction to the film: “It’s really interesting because I think it says something about you, about the audience which I think is unique – to have that experience”.

Everyone I speak to about what they thought of the film has a different response.

Some people sympathise for Joker and some people see him as a ruthless monster, which is such a special opportunity Phillips gives the audience, as it makes them more of an active part in the story.

Phoenix’s performance of Joker was unequivocally flawless and the camera work complemented his characterisation perfectly. He took a method acting approach and lost 52 pounds of weight for the role.

Even despite Robert De Niro being a big inspiration of his, he refused to associate with him outside of scenes as he thought it was unnecessary and would hinder his performance.

Phoenix also took a highly practical approach to developing the character.

For example when he was practicing clown makeup, he painted his face all white and found it more haunting than the whole clown makeup so for one scene the makeup artist just had his face white.

These small details Phoenix added and his dedication to the role is just what I believe made his character such a success.

The Joker happy faceI didn’t want to approach the controversial violent side of Joker as I think it detracts from the artistry of the movie. However, I also feel obliged because it has caused such a stir and worry.

Phoenix said in the Popcorn with Peter Travers interview that the people who would take inspiration from Joker in the crimes they commit “seek personal recognition, that is what they thrive on.”

Adding that he doesn’t think the media are being responsible by discussing it because “the conversation around them can be dangerous”.

Bearing that in mind all I will say is, personally, it is by far not the goriest film I have seen, so I urge you not to be put off watching it for that reason.

Instead, we should be focusing on the fact that there was an eight minute standing ovation at the film’s reception.

It has already won a Golden Lion award at Venice Film Festival, a first for Warner Bros and unheard of for a comic book inspired film, there is moreover undeniable Oscar buzz.

If that doesn’t convince you to go and watch it then nothing will.