No Laughing Matter: Joker Review

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Horrifically beautiful, unimaginably uncomfortable, and all too real. These are just some phrases that come to mind when I think about my viewing experience for “Joker”, directed by Todd Phillips

This movie is like nothing I have ever seen before from a comic book franchise. It truly sheds off the dogma associated with comic book movies and cements itself as truly unique. However, the movie is definitely not for everyone, it's not a movie that I can recommend for people to watch for fun. It is, however, an experience that I would not want to miss out on. 

I remember wondering to myself when I first read about “Joker”, how they could possibly have the Joker without Batman and how they could take such a vile creature and make him the protagonist for his own movie. I could not have been more wrong. 

Thanks to a masterful performance from Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Arthur Fleck, the clown prince of crime is portrayed as almost pitiful. The movie highlights the stigma people have regarding mental illness as it portrays the constant abuse that turns a man completely insane. 

No line better illustrates this then one of Arthur Fleck's very own jokes.

“The worst part of having a mental illness is that everyone expects you to pretend that you don’t,” Fleck said. 

The decision to make Joker’s iconic laugh also part of his disease was instrumental in making this interpretation feel real. Elaborating on Joker as a product of mental illness and lifelong abuse kept his character grounded and made the experience all the more chilling. 

When watching this movie there is not a time that I found myself comfortable in the theater as I was constantly cringing and fidgeting in my seat. I cannot sugarcoat this, there are some hard scenes to get through, but not in a bad way. 

The constant uneasiness of this film is exactly what the creators want you to feel. From the laugh that goes on a little too long, to the malnourished body of Arthur Fleck dancing in his bathroom mirror, you are meant to squirm. This, coupled with the unpredictable nature of the plot, created an unbelievable viewing experience.

To truly enjoy this movie, you need to disregard everything you think of when you hear ‘comic book movie.’ There are no heroes, no happy endings, there are no big CGI fight scenes that are now commonplace within the genre. It is a dark, gritty, grounded story about a man with a disease, that was frowned upon by society. It is uncomfortable, it is beautiful, it is a movie that you are going to want to see.


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