If you are yearning for a film to watch, study, and converse with around dinner, then the highly anticipated Joker is what you have been looking for. A BRON Studios project, Joker is directed by Todd Phillips (Old School 2003, Hangover 2009), written by both Phillips along with Scott Silver ( 8 Mile 2002, The Fighter 2010), and has been striking a great deal of controversy.
Opening in theaters on Friday, October 4th through Warner Bros., the film features a cast led by Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line 2005, Her 2013), Robert De Niro (Meet The Parents 2000, The Intern 2015), and Zazie Beetz ( Atlanta Series, Deadpool 2 2018). Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) is struggling to hold down a job while living with his mother, Penny (Frances Conroy: Six Feet Under series, Catwoman 2004), in Gotham City. They live in a run-down apartment with fellow neighbor Sophie Dumond (Beetz) while often watching popular TV Host Murray Franklin (De Niro) on his late-night show.
Arthur is seen trying to make the most out of his job while dealing with the realities of life, which conflict with how the world “should” be. People can be sometimes rude, inconsiderate, and simply mean. Meeting his interesting and attractive neighbor, Sophie, and watching Murray Franklin on The Murray Franklin Show gives him hope that things can change for the better. That the world isn’t as bad as it seems to be at times.
Before even sitting down for Joker, there was a lot of interest from the trailer. In fact, if you talk to a lot of people, some might say that the trailer did not reveal enough. However, to be honest, if it revealed more than it did, there would be no reason to watch the movie. Most movies ruin the thrill of finding out more, all while taking away the mystery and fun of potential surprises. Joker does that and more as the audience was fixated on how this story would progress, as well as how the ending would eventually arrive to close the curtain on this story.
That in mind, Phoenix does a brilliant job as Arthur Fleck, giving you an insight on a character that typically has no defined origin story. The original mystique of this character is that no one is really sure where he came from or how he came to be. This movie answers that but also leaves some mystery still – in great fashion. It is easy to sympathize with Arthur but it also hard to fully agree, as the audience isn’t necessary behind the character. They are simply watching a very slow-moving train wreck – and it is conflicting and mesmerizing to watch.
The rest of the cast is simply amazing alongside fellow actor, Phoenix. Casting Director Shayna Markowitz did an exemplary job in getting all of the right people to complement such amazing writing, with them delivering their best on screen to fully bring this story to life.
Typically, there is something to critique, but it is hard to find fault with anything in Joker. If there was something to complain about, it would be that there should have been more time to explore the inner-workings of Arthur Fleck. Even more time exploring his younger years to see more of how he fleshed out to be who he is now or even how he truly feels about it. You receive a good amount, but the story and idea is so good that you are left wanting to see more.
As mentioned, already highly controversial, there were some critics against Joker coming out who were saying that it was insensitive in regards to gun violence or that it would influence others to take up arms against other people. Although, the thought of that is extremely short-sighted because this film, in and of itself, is art. Art should not be limited, restricted, nor policed. Joker also does not have anywhere near the amount of extreme violence that the John Wick series has, nor is it being sympathetic to someone like The Joker or being political in any way.
If anything, Joker’s story is asking you to open up your heart and your mind. What we are typically prone to think, maybe we are wrong and have been going about things the wrong way. Maybe we should not be so closed off to people for being different. Maybe we think we have the world figured out when we really don’t. Maybe this movie came at a perfect time to give us room to reflect on all of these suggestions.
Regardless what question you may ask before, during, and after Joker, it is absolutely recommend that you see it. This should start an interesting conversation outside of what the typical superhero genre offers and we would love to hear your thoughts and questions below in the comments. Until then, Cryptic Rock gives Joker 5 out of 5 stars.