As of this writing, Joker has made over $1 billion at the box office and is the most profitable “comic book” film of all time. So, is this a justified accolade? Yes, yes, a million times yes. Joker is currently my favourite film of 2019, and it’s going to take something impressive to take that title away from it.
This standalone origin story follows the story of Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a depressed, mentally ill loner who just can’t catch a break. A series of events in his life inevitably lead to him becoming the Clown Prince of Crime that we all know and reluctantly love.
One of the biggest strengths of Joker is that it’s not bound by any previously established origin stories or plots from the comic books, although some inspirations do become apparent, this is a standalone story which has given the artists involve a great deal of creative freedom to craft the story that they want to tell. This is a comic book film in category only, because at it’s core this is a tragic character study, that merely has the perk of using an establish iconic DC villain to elevate the overall product.
However, the biggest strength of this film, lies in the performance from Joaquin Phoenix, who is absolutely mesmerising in this film and should be winning the Oscar for Best Actor with ease. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of, if not the, finest performance I’ve ever seen. The way that Phoenix conveys the transformation from Fleck to Joker throughout the film is nothing short of perfection, his physicality alone meant that come the end of the film, I believed I was watching a completely different character. The Arthur you see at the start of the film is literally unrecognisable come the climax, and it’s a transformation that left me in awe, I can’t remember the last time I was so captivated by a piece of acting. Joaquin Phoenix, my hat goes off to you sir.
This is unlike any comic book film you’ll ever see, for all the right reasons. In my eyes, Joker is a masterpiece of filmmaking and performance and it’s a film that I’m still thinking about months later, it’s brutal, it’s genuinely unsettling, and it’s going to make you think a lot. I’m counting down the days until I can pick this up on Blu-Ray and relive it again. Todd Philips and Joaquin Phoenix have created something very special here, and if you haven’t seen it yet, then I implore you to do so.
I give Joker a 9.5/10.