Movies based on comic books have never really been based on reality — with mystical characters, time travel and one liners, these movies have always been a fun escape.
“Joker,” however, is different. It’s not bright, it’s not fun, and it’s not a happy story. It’s dark, and not the usual DC dark that people make fun of; it’s the kind of dark that makes you not want to show it to kids.
This movie is no escape from reality. Instead, it is a hard look at what reality is for a mentally ill man in a city that doesn’t care. It is set in an elitist city of Gotham, which gets more dangerous for the working class with anti-capitalist riots forming.
With Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, the man who becomes the Joker, you get the most grounded take on the character. There are no silly schemes, no tricks and not a single nonsensical joke — just a man who works as a party clown, with a passion for stand-up and a love for a late-night show.
All Fleck wants is too take care of his mother and make people laugh as a stand-up comedian. Unfortunately, a mental illness that makes him laugh uncontrollably in any situation (known as Pseudobulbar affect) makes his life increasingly difficult.
Things initially seem to fall into place. He goes to an open mic night and gets a girlfriend. He’s happy. Then he is fired, assaulted by three Wall Street workers, his mother gets sick and his life goes downhill.
With revelations of his life now coming forward, everything changes for Fleck. His only upside is being invited on the Murray Franklin show that he loves.
While a good movie, it is not for the faint of heart. Director Todd Phillips does not pull any stops. It is a violent movie, with murder and several scenes of characters getting physically assaulted.
Still, “Joker” is a fantastic movie, with amazing acting and an original directing style that works with the tone of the film. It is an interesting movie and worth a watch by anyone who even casually likes the Batman series.