“Joker” is deep and soulful. Joaquin Phoenix fully immersed himself in the character in a way that makes the audience feel Arthur Fleck’s deepest pain. It is hard not to sympathise with the Arthur character. Though surrounded by comedians he is alone in the world. He is a victim of circumstance. Not totally in charge of his mind and consequently actions. Arthur would have been best left in the dark but the truth turns him into a man who really, has nothing to lose.
“Joker” is set in 1980s America. Arthur is a middle-aged man who lives with his mother Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy) in Gotham City. Penny suffered from a stroke so, Arthur has to fend for her. And as he said to his hero and talkshow host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), he had had to be the ‘man of the house’ for a while.
Todd Phillips, directed, produced and wrote the screenplay of the psychological thriller with Scott Silver. The movie touches on abandonment, abuse, bullying and mental health. Arthur works as a party clown and he aspires to become a stand-up comedian. He has a mental illness that makes him laugh uncontrollably or long after everyone got the joke – to the annoyance of many.
He is suddenly met by a streak of unfortunate events. Arthur depends on social services for his medication but is informed that funding for the department has been cut so, he would no longer be able to get his drugs.
He is attacked by a gang who beat him up badly, so his colleague Randall,(Glenn Fleshler) gives him a gun for protection. Whilst entertaining children at a hospital, the gun falls from his pocket. He loses his job. It is a bad time for him to lose his job because unemployment is rife. On his way home, Arthur is beaten up again. This time by three businessmen in the train. But this time around, Arthur fights back. In self-defense he shoots them with the gun from Randall and kills one of the men. Businessman and mayoral candidate – who coincidentally is Penny’s former whom she is hoping to a get handout from, condemns the train attack. He says like the killer – those who are envious of successful people are ‘clowns.’ His criticism sparks demonstrations with the protesters wearing clown marks.
Amid it all, Penny had a huge secret which eventually sends Arthur downhill. At the same, this society’s reject becomes the hero of Gotham City’s social class.
This film concludes by showing that the world is indeed a vicious circle. It is one truly melancholic story yet marvelous. It is dramatic and unpredictable. “Joker” is a masterpiece through and through.
Phoenix gives an Oscar-worthy performance in “Joker.” Without a doubt, “Joker” is one of the best films of 2019. The movie is worth the journey to the cinema and you can still see it at Genesis Deluxe Cinemas.