Welp. What a performance. No one was surprised when Joaquin Phoenix took the Oscar for Best Actor, and nor was I. He absolutely deserved it, even in a year when Adam Driver was nominated for Marriage Story, which is a better movie in my opinion. I cannot fault Phoenix in this whatsoever.
Joker is a movie which has received such mixed reviews. In the main, it seems like it’s mostly men who love it and women who don’t, so I feel like I’m one of the few females who gave a shit about this.
Firstly, what’s super smart is the subtle green tone/filter Todd Phillips chose to use throughout (even before Fleck canonically becomes “The Joker”). It seems so obvious when you point it out, but it’s so effective that I kept talking about it repeatedly through the duration of the film. (Yep, I’m that annoying movie bitch). Green being the first colour you think of when you think of the character, it is a genius addition in terms of it’s simplicity.
Most of the negative commentary circulating around Joker contains the words “dudebros” and “shallow”. I hear the question “do these straight white men deserve sympathy because the world is “bad” and turns them into deranged serial killers?” No, of course not. But actually, I didn’t really feel any sympathy towards the character. I think feeling that way would be reading this movie wrong.
I also hear a lot of people saying that Phillips wanted to make a movie with a message that somehow ends up saying nothing. I don’t think that’s true either. This is a complex movie that is clearly drawn up to be polarising, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Basically, this is not a perfect movie (despite there being a perfect performance by the lead actor). But is it an entertaining slow burn? 100%. More people should look at this for what it is: a piece of cinematic, legitimate entertainment. Not every movie has to have deep meaning. Sometimes it is purely about making something interesting. And Joker does that.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Rating: *
*Had to give this a 4 overall as it’s not perfect, but it was brilliant in each of my chosen categories. A special shout out as well to Hildur Guðnadóttir‘s monumental original score.