Joker - Review
by Miguel de la Cal Moreno
Joker is the latest re-invention of the origin story of the villain from the DC comics universe. Directed and cowritten by Todd Phillips, best known from The Hangover Trilogy, and starring masterful Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, Joker depicts the descend into violence and uncontrolled madness of both the city of Gotham and clown for-hire Arthur Fleck. It sets up a social climate that is constantly compared to the psyche of our main character, and then has them both slowly lose control after an accidental shooting in the Gotham metro that kick starts revolts, putting the abused citizens against the rich and powerful elite.
Joker is brilliant at keeping an unsettling tone, mainly due to the hypnotic and stress-inducing performance by Phoenix and the music by Hildur Guðnadóttir, the two highlights of this movie. They both help to make this a difficult movie to watch, making you want to close your eyes and ears. The directing manages to keep the unsettling tone throughout, but it occasionally resorts to cheap spectacle to achieve this. The violence in this movie, while not excessive, is unnecessarily gruesome and works as a spectacle without substance that acts as an attraction rather than a narrative element.
It is worth noticing how this movie talks about society. It exaggerates issues of social relevance to comment on the illogical nature of society that previous iterations of the Joker talked so much about without actually showing it. By the end, one can only think that the Batman in this world is just a self-entitled rich prick, who is unable to understand the oppressive structures he is endorsing.
Joker is neither the masterpiece that many say (it does not deserve being on the top 10 movie list on IMdB), but it is also not the endorsement of violence that you would expect when looking at the controversy surrounding it. It is a good movie, an interesting take at the quintessential comic book madman and most importantly at the society that creates a villain, and an experience that will make you question whether you want to leave the theatre. It is a movie that in some aspect I am happy I watched, but I hope I won’t see again in a long time.