“Joker” Is Anything But A Joke


By Mateo Acosta, Editor in Chief

One of the hottest movies this season has got to be Todd Phillips‘ “Joker”. In Phillips’ film, Joaquin Pheonix plays the beloved villain, Joker, and instead of the film being a violent action film with Joker wreaking havoc, it’s much more focused on the realistic character development of Arthur Fleck, and his transformation into the Joker. The film follows him from being an estranged outsider to an accepted figure of protest against the rich. Phillips, Pheonix, and the team behind the movie did an incredible job dissecting the cartoon Joker and putting a realistic origin story on this world-famous character.

From the first scene of the movie, it’s clear there’s something that sets Fleck apart from the rest of his coworkers. This scene sets the uneasy tone that is prevalent throughout the whole movie, specifically with him putting on his clown makeup alone, in a corner of the clown locker room, while the rest of his coworkers have a laugh on the other side of the room. There is limited dialogue in this scene and the silent details do most of the talking. From the zooming to the eerie audio, and the expressions Pheonix makes, you automatically get this queasy feeling about Arthur Fleck and this feeling is never lost throughout the entire movie.

The beginning of this film follows Fleck barely making ends meet as a clown during the day and a failed comedian during the night. With his situation getting progressively worse; him getting jumped by kids, getting fired, losing his therapist, and getting jumped once again by rich young men on the train, he snaps.

While getting jumped by the young men on the train, he shoots and kills them in a form of self-defense. This murder then gets blown up by the media and slowly but surely, Fleck begins to feel he now belongs in a world where he once felt so distant and ignored. Riots then break out after the killings, as they were seen as an act of protest against the socio-economic difference between the rich and poor in Gotham City.

The clown then becomes the symbol for these riots, and in the chaos, Fleck finds his true self. Now as the Joker, he believes he belongs in society and is loved by the people that are causing all this chaos. After all, Fleck only wanted to make others smile, and through his eyes, he believes he has achieved that during these riots, solidifying his transformation from the outcast Arthur Fleck to the ‘beloved’ Joker.

Pheonix has a performance of a lifetime in this film. The iconic painful and unsettling Joker laugh seemed to be perfected by Pheonix and was given a realistic origin by Phillips. The loss of an unsafe amount of weight to show the character correctly and also his gestures, facial expressions, and movements also go to show the character in the correct lens, further improving the argument for Joaquin Pheonix to be nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. To be frank, it would be incredibly fitting for Pheonix to win the best actor, just like it was when the movie received an 8-minute standing ovation at its premiere at the Vienna Film Festival.

On a scale of one to ten, I’d give the movie a nine for the excellent job the film does with portraying how the Joker became the Joker. It was not a film of action, but more on the development of the character, and being rated on the development of the character, the film comes very close to perfect.