Joker is a scintillating unforgiving ride that ratchets up the pressure at every turn. With every twist and turn, the narrative builds to such a fever pitch that the experience becomes both pleasant and unsettling all at once. At times the film does feel like a mirror being held up to our world. Joker certainly doesn’t hold back it’s thoughts on sensationalism, the divide between the rich and middle class, and especially mental illness. Writer/Director Todd Phillips certainly did an admirable job weaving those points into the rise of Gotham’s clown prince of crime. What made the film even more appealing was how none of those moments felt intrusive or out of place.
One bit of advice that I would like to give to anyone going to see Joker, try and stay away from reviews or articles which give too much of the plot away. The less you know, the better. The essential thing that everyone needs to know is that the narrative centers around a man named Arthur Fleck and the events which contributed to his eventual descent into madness. One thing which does bare mentioning is Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in this film. Watching him in Joker felt as if I was watching Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Phillips provided him with the canvas and the tools, and the result was a masterpiece. It’s hard to imagine surpassing this performance this year, and I fully expect to Phoenix becoming an award season darling real soon.
Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score was the perfect blend of serenity with a dash of insanity. I did think it was interesting that even in Joker’s most brutal moments in the film, the score was soft as to emphasize the beauty in these heinous acts. Lawrence Sher’s Cinematography was the perfect accompaniment Phillip’s orchestra of madness. Sher’s use of handheld camera shots and close-ups gave Joker a more intimate feel.
Overall, Joker is a phenomenal experience that isn’t for the skittish but well worth the price of admission.