Fans of film can watch Joker and understand why people love comic book characters.

The Joker is my favorite comic book villain of all time. I have toys, posters, most of his stand-alone comic stories and t-shirts. So, to say I have some bias is an understatement. With that out of the way, Joker is mesmerizing and one of the best movies of the year.

Joker is written and directed by Todd Phillips, and stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck. The plot of the movie is a character study of a man who is down on his luck and is disregarded by society.

First and foremost, Phoenix is brilliant. He carries the movie on his back and is eye candy to watch. His performance is disturbing yet heartbreaking. You see him break before your eyes. Fleck tries to succeed in a society that constantly beats him down. It is a perfect example of a descent into madness. Phoenix once again shows that he is a powerhouse of an actor and when he plays characters that unhinge, he is at his absolute best. Two fun facts about his performance are he lost 50 lbs., and he studied videos of people who suffer from pathological laughter.

The score by Hildur Guðnadóttir is a superb. Its dark and brooding and tells a story throughout. The cinematography is excellent, and the set design really shows you how Gotham City is. I think it’s the first movie to really get Gotham right.

Joker tackles a bevy of topics, but the main ones are mental illness, bullying, classism. To me, the movie doesn’t glorify Fleck as a psychopath or an anti-hero. It shows you the process of what happens to person that is bullied, ridiculed, never given a chance, and victimized. Then, the city takes away his medicine that then he needs and what do you get? Oh, and add on top the fact that his mental health counselor is unresponsive to him.

“You don’t listen, do you?,” Fleck tells his counselor. “You just ask the same questions every week. “How’s your job?” “Are you having any negative thoughts?” All I have are negative thoughts.”

Joker is an excellent movie. It takes the most iconic comic book character and grounds him into reality. That is why the movie is so disturbing because the event in this movie can absolutely happen in 2019 and has happened before. If you are on the fence about watching this movie, please go watch it just to see Phoenix give a haunting performance that will stick with you after you leave the theater.

5/5

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” – Arthur Fleck