Cinemaster Score: 9.4/10
As a whole, Joker is only a bit short of a cinematic masterpiece. No matter the controversy following it, the film makes a strenuous effort to reach greatness. It is crafted with sheer perfection. Todd Phillips helms the entire thing impressively, drawing inspiration from esteemed directors before him and giving it all some flare. The lines are memorable, too – ranging from hilarious to downright disturbing with the social commentary. The aforementioned dialogue does well in building the film’s characters as fluctuating, realistic people. All of which truly surrounds the titular star – Joker. The character’s story is told uniquely here, offering up a new view on the character rather than reiterating old themes. It has a classic groove to it while still finding a way to be new. Adding to the perfect dramatic pacing, comic references, and plot twists along the way – you have Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix truly makes Joker his own in the best ways as he gives a performance that – like the movie as a whole – will blow you away. He’s impressive as ever, the cherry on top of one of the best film’s in recent memory. All-in-all, it’s hard to deny that Joker is anything but a near-perfect piece of artwork in our modern world of film.
Acting; Possibly the best part of Joker, is the Joker himself – Joaquin Phoenix. He embodies the role in ways most have never even attempted to. His performance is not only the best of the year, but one of the greatest of all time. The way he moves and acts (like that of a stilted puppet), only to emerge from his chrysalis as a graceful sociopath. He evolves the character in ways we’ve never seen, giving him traits no one would ever associate with the Joker. Phoenix makes the character a dancer, a charismatic showman, and an icon for the people of Gotham to aspire to. It is no hyperbole to say that Joaquin Phoenix rivals the very best of Joker performances. What he does on screen is, simply put, a beautifully calibrated and hauntingly realistic look at the Clown Prince of Crime. Oh, and the rest of the cast is pretty great too.
Script; Joker wouldn’t work without great dialogue – which it has in spades. There are countless quotable lines from the film – from the hilarious “I forgot to punch out”, to the menacing “You get what you deserve.” The script provides a look into the world of mental health that not many films have explored, and its unique take on societal judgement is something that should be admired. Joker is so profound because of its unconventional structure and tone – both of which wouldn’t be what they are without the strong writing pushing it. All those memorable scenes in the movie have some sort of dialogue that pushes them from great to iconic, each one written with unique style and originality. Joker is so special because it is so different, and the well-written script makes this film a “once in a lifetime” kind of movie.
Characters; Joker is a film with plenty of variety in its characters. Their variety is primarily due to the film’s use of realism. Like reality, every character has their own motives and heartlessness that overlook their good deeds. It’s an aspect that gives life to humanity’s darker side and emphasizes on the movie’s themes of such. Each side character shown is only around because if their interactions with our main star that the film revolves around – Arthur Fleck. Arthur is a troubled man and the believable take on this iteration of “Joker” is fantastic. His slowly devolving mental state makes the movie. As the film’s centerpiece, this rendition of Joker is an undeniably unique take on an iconic comic book character that is hard not to be intrigued by.
Direction; Todd Phillips, the director of Joker, made it with finesse. For having been previously best known for directing The Hangover, Joker is quite the extreme opposite. Nonetheless, his ability to take head of the project and do so in such a flawless manner is impressive. Phillips’ use of inspiration from Martin Scorsese is used to perfection throughout the feature. He pays homage to classics while simultaneously making it something new and true to the film’s subject matter. Phillips also blends tones and paces the entire film consistently. The balance between tension, surreal mystery, and comedy is gripping. Looking at film as the art it truly is, it’s hard not to consider Phillips’ direction – from the slow buildup to the twisted moments created – to be a beautiful piece of work.
Story; The narrative Joker weaves in its tight two hour runtime is a darkly complex and unique take on the iconic villain’s origin. It centers on Arthur Fleck’s descent into criminal insanity and his internal struggle with the society who disregards him. If anyone were to describe the plot of Joker in one word, it would be unconventional. In both tonal style and structure, Joker doesn’t follow any singular method of filmmaking. Scenes will occasionally play that have little to no meaning behind them, and many of the scenes are completely open to interpretation. No one person will be able to definitively say what is important and what is not, and that’s what’s so special about this film. It’s multiple choice, just like the Joker’s origin is supposed to be.
Enjoyment; Looking at the enjoyment factor of Joker quite complicated. In general, the film is surrounded by an unnecessary amount of controversy. From the perspective of someone who loves comics, the flick could be taken as the perfect origin to an infamous villain – or it could be seen as unfaithful to the character’s ambiguous beginnings. From the perspective of a casual moviegoer, Joker could be seen as offensive or disturbing. Yet, looking at the movie for what it is – from the perspective of someone who appreciates film and comics wholeheartedly – Joker is hard not to adore. It tells an incredibly mesmerizing story and remains satisfying all the way through. Therefore – with the enjoyment factor seems more subjective here than with most movies – it is an entertaining film to say the least.
David: “Prior to seeing Joker, no movie had ever demanded my attention to be so mesmerizing. – and mesmerizing it was. Joker has some of the best tonal balancing and pacing I’ve ever seen. Plus, there’s an easily quotable script and Joaquin Phoenix – who puts on a remarkable showing – that make Joker one of my favorite flicks.”
JP: “There is next to no doubt in my mind that this is my favorite comic book movie of all time. From the beautiful cinematography and mesmerizing acting, to the haunting score and masterful direction, Joker is undeniably an amazing film. It’s one of the best movies of 2019 and one of my favorite films of all time.”