There may be some spoilers ahead, so be forewarned.
To start, Joker is a good movie. Visually and viscerally it captures Gotham, the comic book stand in for New York City, in the days before Rudolph Giuliani. If you were a frequent visitor back then, you are well aware the city could be a frightening and chaotic and hopeless place. The film makers deftly convey that sense.
What can be said about the acting? Outstanding, excellent, award worthy — each is accurate and at the same time, not complimentary enough.
The movie’s slow burn pace was not a drag. The two hour plus run-time never had me checking my watch.
As the title of this review states, the effect is done exceptionally well. The events which eventually cause the metamorphosis of Arthur Fleck into the Joker are emotionally well done. And once the Joker emerges, there is no doubt we are witnessing excellence. What is lacking, is the depth of prior traumas that sparked such a dramatic and cruel end result.
Yes, Arthur Fleck’s past is touched upon, but not to the extent of his present. We see where he is and where he goes, but his past is given nothing more than a cursory delving into.
I am a big believer in the theory of omission, and when used appropriately, it will propel a story to an incredible level. However, when not understood properly by the writer, it comes across as woefully unfulfilling. That is what happens here, and it is sad because everything else is done so well.
The horrific events that that lead to Arthur’s mental injuries are hinted at, but, but we are never allowed to discover if Arthur himself was consciously aware of these traumas. We never are shown the suffering of Arthur at any point before the events of the film. Because to understand that kind of damage, we need to go beyond the abbreviated time frame. The heinous actions of the film may have been the straws, but they were not the cause of damage which weakened the proverbial camel’s back. By omitting the initial traumas, we never gain the sympathy or empathy or understanding for the torment that caused “a life without happiness.”
Yes, we can infer the horrific nature of those traumas, but omitting the exploration by Arthur is a disservice to the character and to an otherwise excellent tale of a damaged man who breaks. Especially since an actor of Joaquin Phoenix’s talent could have brought deep, meaningful exposition to that which caused the initial mental injuries.
I think my one, for lack of a better word — negative, comes from my own writings and explorations of what damages people, and that is a bias to which I freely admit.
Yet, even with that sole “disappointment,” Joker is an excellent motion picture. It gives a thoughtful look into a person’s descent into madness, a plausible explanation for wearing the clown make up and most importantly, in the end, reinforces and expands upon the cinematic version of Joker’s motivations — purely to create chaos. All in all, it is a good story.
I highly recommend Joker.
“Who the hell am I?”
I am an independent, self-published teller of tales,
an author, as of yet, scarcely any renown.
However, as a storyteller, I know who I am,
and with that persona, I am both confident and comfortable. I invite you to visit my website,
and/or Amazon Author Pages
if you are so inclined please
purchase a copy and leave a review.
I write of the damaged and broken, because that is the norm. For each person who overcomes their demons, there are hundreds, if not thousands, who do not.