Film in review: “Joker” by Todd Phillips


The Winonan’s film reporter rates this film 4.5/5 stars

Madeline Peterson, Film Reporter

Joker, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, tells a truly compelling tale of the story of how the joker came to be, and of a man that society abandons who turns into a criminal mastermind. However, I feel that this film is not ready for an audience quite yet. The joker is such an interesting character that it was hard to put into words how I felt about it.

For most of the film, it was hard to watch a man with a serious mental illness be treated like garbage by his peers and the society around him. However, I had to keep reminding myself what he turned into- a serial murderer.

You have to go into this film with a completely open mind, because you want to feel sympathy for this man, but also does that mean you condone what he does? This film does seem like it infers that mental illness leads to violence, or that abuse as a young child leads to mental illness, which then eventually leads to violence. However, as an audience member watching the collapse of one man, it doesn’t mean everyone will end up the same way. I do recommend a bit of caution while watching, as strong mixed feelings will arise.

On a different note, Joaquin Phoenix did a stellar job playing this role. It is not easy playing a role that was meant for a now dead man (Heath Ledger), but he did it with such elegance. This character has such a signature laugh that we now get the origin of, and he definitely did it justice. This film was so compelling yet conflicting because Phoenix played the character so well. Not many people want to watch a film with a main character that you cannot feel for at all.

I had an interesting perspective on this film having never seen any of the Batman films or early cartoons. I knew the premise of who the Joker was from social media and friends, but I never truly understood why he did what he did and what made him become the joker. So, only getting this plot line and origin story was cool as in I am very conflicted on how to feel about the character, but it makes me excited to watch what came before and see if my thoughts are solidified or further questioned.

Overall, this film has amazing cinematography, casting and storyline. This is a cinephile’s dream to watch a film that they can debate about things other than it was good or bad. However, instead they can debate the ethical dilemma that precedes the film and what might the director have wanted people to get out of it.

I give this film a 4.5 out of 5 because it makes you think, it has amazing casting, editing, cinematography and much more.