Joker: A Newborn of Everyone Favorite Fictitious Villainous Clown, Joaquin Phoenix
Warning! This movie review contains spoilers from the movie, Joker (2019), as well as minor spoilers from another movies, such as The Dark Knight (2008), Taxi Driver (1976), and The King of Comedy (1982).
This early October, we are greeted by a brand new — yet another — version of Joker, Batman’s most iconic villain. Everyone were so excited and pumped by this new Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, including me. Before the movie came out, I watched the trailer over and over again, saw Joaquin’s performance and had high expectation for the movie. It’s been awhile, we haven’t seen any Joker since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. (Don’t even think about mentioning Jared Leto here!).
I, myself, started to know and admire Joker as a villain when I watched The Dark Knight, the second movie of Batman trilogies directed by Christopher Nolan. In the movie, Heath Ledger portrayed Joker as a villain who didn’t have any motives; neither money, vengeance, love, or anything; for every crimes, chaos, and destruction he brings. He simply just want to watch the world burn and bring chaos to order of society.
I personally have never seen nor read any villain character concept this unique in my entire childhood. It blows my mind when I think about a villain who has no ulterior motives whatsoever for his crimes. It’s hard to imagine such a person exists, while at the same time, the idea that this person probably exists somewhere in this world intrigues me.
Now, what I want to talk about is the actual Joker movie of this year. To be honest, even though I’m amazed by Joaquin performance throughout the whole movie, overall it didn’t meet my expectation and I’m quite disappointed. Sure, some of you probably want to say, “But this is the best DC movie we have so far!” Well, yes, I agree with that. At last, DC dared to show their true colors, which is good and bring new flavor in this modern movies industry. But, it doesn’t justify the predictable plot plaguing this movie.
It seems like Joker draws its references from Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, both a classic directed by Martin Scorsese. A person’s psychological transformation from good to what considered to be evil by society, but not for the person undergo the transformation itself. A disappointment that kickstarts and turns a person life for the best, or rather for the worst in this case. An alternate scenes between reality and fantasy, truth and delusion. The cast for the main protagonist in those two movies, Robert De Niro, even makes his appearance in the Joker movie as Murray Franklin, the show host.
In my opinion, the movie simply don’t work, because the plot is so predictable that it’s actually undermines the concept of villain Joker in its essence. In my point of view, Joker supposed to be unpredictable, as he didn’t have any motives and only driven by his instincts. The movie plot should mirror this value. Instead, we got someone who ignored by society, received a weapon somewhere along the road, and started to seek vengeance and kill people who have hurt him. It’s lame!
But despite that, I still like the movie, thanks to Joaquin’s performance throughout the movie. I was frozen in the cinema (both figuratively and literally speaking, as the temperature in the cinema was so cold!) I believe it’s hard to play a movie character who has mental illnesses, yet Joaquin managed to pull that off! I also feel the cinematography and the sound design was good and on point with the message the movie wants to tell us.
In conclusion, this year Joker movie is not bad, but it’s certainly not a blockbuster. It’s a very violent and aggressive movie. It’s an exploration of a character who have mental illnesses and ignored by society. Despite having numerous backlashes and controversies, it’s worth seeing for once. Go watch it if you’re curious, but beware of its psychological effects and don’t bring your kids!
“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a f**king comedy.” — Arthur Fleck, Joker (2019)