By Ethan Cannistra, Staff Writer
Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness as he turns into the classic comic book villain the Joker. Fleck lives with his mother in Gotham City and is struggling to make ends meet as a party clown. However, several events happen in Fleck’s personal and professional life that cause him to spiral out of control and slowly lose his sanity.
Joker is a great character study of someone who descends into madness because of the way he is treated by society. In the beginning of the film, the audience sees Arthur Fleck as a normal man, just trying to provide for himself and his mother. However, as the film progresses we see that Arthur is in fact not a healthy person. The audience slowly starts to understand Arthur’s past and how he interprets the world. This is where the movie truly excels. Joker is a movie about a villain but it does a great job of showing how Arthur justifies everything he does. While Arthur does some truly horrible actions, the audience can get a look inside into his mind and see how he justifies his actions.
The movie also has some surprising plot twists that were done very well. The director of the film, Todd Philips, sets up story elements and he is able to convince you that they are real. However, several times throughout the movie, Philips changes direction in very surprising ways. This allows the audience to always be on their toes and to always be questioning what is real and what is not real. One issue that I have about some of the plot twists in Joker is that they were predictable. I saw a few of the misdirects coming. However, this did not happen often and I still found myself surprised several times throughout the movie.
Joaquin Phoenix is exceptional in the role of Arthur Fleck. Phoenix delivers a very subtle performance and this can be seen in his transformation from Arthur Fleck to the Joker. As Fleck descends into madness, he slowly becomes more confident. Phoenix shows this confidence by changing his physical presence and talking in a more confident way. He also does a great job of creating a character that truly believes that what he is doing is right. The Joker does terrible things throughout the movie, but the Joker believes that he is justified in his actions. Phoenix is one of the best actors to play the Joker and will most likely receive an Oscar nomination this year.
Overall, Joker is not only a great comic book movie but a great character study. The film provides a unique glimpse into the mind of the classic villain Joker. The movie keeps you on the edge of your seat even though some of the plot twists become predictable. Joaquin Phoenix also delivers one of the best performances of the year as Arthur Fleck.