All the Reasons Why You Should See Joker

Sophie Castro, Editor

After the initial critic reviews of Joker, the new movie describing the backstory of Batman’s arch nemesis, few fans were eager to rush to the theaters. However, after being in theaters for more than two weeks, audiences are thrilled, rating the movie 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Joker follows the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a failing comedian who suffers from mental illness and uncontrollable fits of pathological laughter. After getting fired from his job as a clown, and going off his medication, and city mandated therapy sessions due to budget cuts, Fleck begins his downward spiral into the character we now know as Joker. 

While impressive for many reasons, the highlight of this film was the performance of Phoenix as audiences got to watch his transformation into Arthur Fleck. After losing fifteen pounds for the role and researching a number of serial killers to model the character after, Phoenix portrayed the role perfectly. Everything from the childish cadence to his voice to the eerie tranquility of his dance numbers leaves the audience believing that Phoenix is the Joker.

In addition to Phoenix’s performance, the screenwriting and storyline of Joker add insightful depth to the film and transform it from just another superhero movie, to a psychological thriller about a disturbed man that will stay with the audience long after they leave the theater. 

While not a particularly happy film, the movie captures the audience from scene one as Arthur Fleck is jumped in an ally. Even as Fleck begins his descent into the disturbed mind of the Joker, viewers are able to sympathize and care for Fleck despite his misguided morals.

Aiding in the intensity of this film, both the direction and scoring add another level of depth to the movie. Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker opens with Fleck painting his face in clown makeup, and as the camera flashes to Fleck, the viewer sees a closeup of his face, so close that it is uncomfortable for the viewer and sets off the unsettling tone of this film. This scene, along with many others, showcase the masterful nuances that Phillips added to the film. 

Yet another notable element of the film is the score, with much of the music being provided by a deep base note on the cello, the subtle score creates an ominous tone congruent with the dark nature of the film. However, as Fleck becomes the Joker, he dances to upbeat and happy music that is somehow even more disturbing that the ominous background music, because it shows how much pleasure Fleck takes in the violent acts he’s committing. 

Though movie critics chastised the amount of violence portrayed in this film, the movie was created to study a killer and purposefully make the audience feel a “little” uncomfortable. Because of this, the graphic violence is necessary to create the intended emotion. 

While Joker may not be a feel-good, family friendly movie, it is a fascinating and masterfully created character study that is perfect for watching with friends when in the mood for a psychological thriller.