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Joker (2019) Review

Put on a happy face… or a better movie.

“For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.”

Release Date: October 4th, 2019
Length: 2H 2M
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
MPAA: 14A Canada, R United States

**There are spoilers at the end of this review after the warning at the end. I tried to get them to go as far down as I could so that they’d be harder to see but WordPress isn’t working the way I want it too, so I cannot push them down farther. So please scroll responsibly. If you don’t want to read my review all the way and just see the score, please do not scroll down too far as you’ll get into spoilers***

I remember the day I saw this trailer on youtube, and then I proceeded to watch the trailer repeatedly every couple of days, I was really intrigued by Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. I think he is an absolutely brilliant actor and I was down to see this movie as soon as I saw that he signed on to play the titular character. I am very late to seeing this movie, I did not have the time to go see it when it first came out and everything, but I am glad I got to sit down and see this film for myself after hearing the word of mouth. The real question is, is this a good movie? Lets break it down and see.

Joker is a Drama, Crime and Thriller film about a mentally troubled comedian in Gotham City named Arthur Fleck who is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: The Joker.

Joker is directed and written by Todd Phillips. Phillips has had an interesting filmography which includes: Road Trip (2000), Old School (2003), Starsky & Hutch (2004), The Hangover (2009), Due Date (2010), The Hangover Part II (2011), The Hangover Part III (2013) and War Dogs (2016). Its interesting to me the career that Phillips has had going from directing teen comedies, to other weird comedies, to directing the infamous The Hangover (2009) which I really enjoyed and thought was quite funny. War Dogs (2016) was the first film that he did that wasn’t a straight up comedy… I liked that film, and I totally forgot he directed it. Joker on the other hand script wise for me just didn’t do it for me at all. I felt the script was just weak in a lot of ways. The supporting characters I didn’t feel were developed enough, the descent into madness felt hoaky to me and I felt like the “Twists” if I can even call it that were so shoehorned and shallow that I had my head in my hands as I shook my head when they were revealed. They not only took a lot of influences from Taxi Driver (1976), but it almost felt like a modern day take on it and to me not in a good way.

Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/The Joker, Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, and Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck.

Joaquin Phoenix’s filmography consists of Gladiator (2000), Signs (2002), Hotel Rwanda (2004), Walk the Line (2005), We Own The Night (2007), Reservation Road (2007), The Master (2012), Her (2013), and You Were Never Really Here (2017). Phoenix’s name alone puts my butt in the seat. Phoenix is an incredible and gifted actor who has never won an oscar which is baffling to me; his talent is incredible, and his take on the Joker character was very unique and he absolutely made it his own. In The Dark Knight (2008) we had the best Joker performance to date, in Heath Ledger’s character and I was intrigued by the possibilities of where Phoenix could go with the role, but I was a bit hesitant as I felt Ledger’s performance was legendary. Is Phoenix’s performances better than Ledger’s? in this reviewers eyes no, but I felt like they were kind of on par with each other.

Robert De Niro’s filmography consists of Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Brazil (1985), The Untouchables (1987), Goodfellas (1990), Backdraft (1991), Cape Fear (1991), Casino (1995), Heat (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), Meet The Parents (2000), The Score (2001), Meet The Fockers (2004), Red Lights (2012), and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). De Niro is a brilliant actor, theres no doubt about that. He has had an illustrious career playing a multitude of different characters, and has really not played the same role twice. *Note* Watch Heat (1995) if you want to see in this reviewers eyes, De Niro’s best role**. I felt like De Niro was really good in this movie whenever he was on screen.

Frances Conroy’s filmography consists of Sleepless In Seattle (1993), The Aviator (2004), and Six Feet Under {TV Series} (2001-2005). Conroy is an actor I never knew the name of but has an extremely recognizable face, and I was stoked to see her on screen as Arthur’s mother. I enjoyed some elements of the relationship that Arthur and Penny had in the movie, but boy did I ever feel uncomfortable at certain elements of the relationship. It started off innocent and then there were certain things that happened that just made me feel weird and took me out of the film. But Conroy’s performance was good.

The soundtrack to this movie stood out to me, I thought it was a really nice variation of different types of music in the soundtrack, but also there was a very haunting score by Hildur Guonadottir. Guonadottir has had a very big year, as her other composing credit was Chernobyl {TV Series} (2019).

There were absolute moments of brilliance I felt, especially in the way that Phoenix adapted his own version of the character, but there were a lot of moments that completely overshadowed the brilliance and took me completely out of the film. I found myself not drawn in enough to enjoy myself, and found myself bored a lot of the 2 hour run time. The script just was not good, and really bothered me in some places. I think I need to do a spoiler write up at the end of this review. I can’t express my problems with the film without going into some details about what I had issues with. I will clearly mark it with “********” after my score, so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to be spoilers, exit this review right after I give you my score… you have been warned.

The pacing of the film I felt was bad too. It was only a 2 hour movie, but it felt almost like 2.5 or 3 hours long just by how it passed by at a snails pace. I didn’t find it engrossing.

The tone for the film I felt was absolutely all over the place. It felt like it could not commit to a lane and stay there. It was zig zagging in between lanes. It just felt unfocused and amateurish in how the story was handled.

The acting in this movie was good, if you just focus on Phoenix the performances are great. This movie is only worth watching in this reviewers eyes for Phoenix’s performance. As a movie and form of entertainment I consider this movie bad. As the driver for a brilliant performance by Phoenix, it succeeds. But I don’t have any need to watch this film again, at least not anytime soon.

Joker gets a 2/5 from me. This is the most disappointing film of the year so far. The only reason that it is worth watching is the brilliant performance by Joaquin Phoenix. THE ONLY REASON. It is a big reason, but this movie was just frustrating, and disappointing in my eyes. This film lives and dies with Joaquin Phoenix, without his performance this film would not exist and it would be a complete dud. It was too drawn out and not focused enough to keep my attention. I’ve never had this experience with a film before, I was engrossed by Phoenix’s performance, but i was left frustrated and unfulfilled by the rest of the movie.

Until Next Time!


I need to write a little bit so that the spoilers dont show up right away. I dont want to be that guy, and everyone should absolutely see this movie for themselves. Yes I like reading reviews, but everyone’s opinion is different and if a movie interests you, absolutely go see it. Support cinema, and support theatres! Support stories put onto screen. Anyway thats it for me. Thanks for reading!

*****Spoilers Start Here********

The twists in this movie the delusional Penny and Arthur did not hit with me. It felt like such a cop out and very forced. I wasn’t shocked by the twist, but I was shocked by how they tried to make it a twist. It just didn’t do anything for me. In fact it took me out of the movie even more.

I also felt like the whole Wayne story was completely shoehorned into the film. They did the stupid kill Thomas and Martha Wayne scene again during the Joker uprising, which I absolutely did not feel needed to be there.

I didn’t care about any of the characters when I felt like the movie was trying to be like “You should care about these characters, you should sympathize with this character because reasons.” Also there was a message this film tried to convey, but since it was so unfocused and so ridiculous in places that the message was lost and I felt it missed the point.

This movie also doesn’t need to exist in the overall picture. Joker needs Batman, and I feel like this film did not have any urgency because Batman wasn’t in it. We didn’t need a Joker origin story, he is much better as this illustrious illusion, an enigma that we don’t know where he came from, but we know that he introduces anarchy and is just this vile person who has seen some shit that has made him the way that he is. I like filling that void with my own thoughts of why he is the way that he is, I didn’t need an origin story to tell me the gaps.

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