The 2019 psycho thriller written and directed by Todd Phillips, is the origin story behind DC character, Joker. Arthur Fleck ( Joaquin Phoenix ) a clown with an uncontrollable laughing disorder, who through the hands of Gotham’s people slowly turns insane.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The film takes place during a 1981 crime heavy Gotham City. The malnurished Arthur suffers from a mental condition, causing him to laugh uncontrollably at really inconvenient times. Arthur lives with his Mother, Penny ( Frances Conroy ). The two enjoy watching late night Murray Franklin’s ( Robert De Niro ) show together. In comparison to a lot of talk show hosts out now, he’s actually not that bad. Sure it was all scripted, but so are Kimmel, Fallon and the rest of them. I’d watch a Robert De Niro Late Night Show. Fun fact, the role was based on De Niro’s previous character in 1982’s ‘The King of Comedy’. Some time later, Arthur is an audience member at his show. The two making a connection.
While performing at a children’s hospital, a gun falls out of his jacket. His boss, understandably upset, fires him. Arthur claiming it was a prop. He goes back home ( while in his clown outfit ) by subway, on the way three rich men get into a heated argument with an innocent bystanding woman. Due to his condition, he starts laughing. They harass Arthur, it ends with all three men getting gunned down.
Arthur is now all over the news like a certain Spider-“vigilante” in a famous 2002 Tobey Maguire movie. The Joker face becoming infamous, a symbol that the people of Gotham use against the rich. Arthur performs his first standup gig. He ends up laughing more then the crowd, not even being able to perform his jokes without bursting with laughter.
Arthur finds a letter from Penny to Thomas Wayne. Apartently he is his Father. Meaning Joker is Batman’s brother. Yeah that’s a creepy twist if I’ve ever heard one. He goes to Wayne Manor and tries to impress young Bruce ( Dante Pereira-Olsen ). Alfred ( Douglas Hoodge ) telling him to go away. The people of Gotham have started an anti-rich people movement. A crowd of clown-dressed protesters rioting at the city hall. That night, Arthur watches the Murray Franklin show. He opens up by making fun of his performance. Arthur is heartbroken, betrayed.
Arthur meets Thomas Wayne at a theater. Where he explains he is NOT the Father. He goes to a mental hospital, where Penny used to be. He gets her file along with the adoption papers. He realizes the truth. That A Thomas Wayne is not his Father, and B he was adopted by a crazy woman. Due to positive reviews from his standup footage, Arthur gets invited as a guest to the Murray Franklin show. He strangles Penny, who recently had a stroke, to death.
Arthur gets on the show. Making an immediatly bizarre impact. Making dark jokes, angering both Murray and the audience. He confesses to the murders on live TV. Murray no longer liking him. They get into a heated philosophical argument. Ending in Murray getting killed. He escapes, leading a riot of clown protesters. The police get to him, but he escapes Arkham. The End.
Arthur was an unrelatable character. A choice they could have changed, such as with Patrick Bateman ( Christian Bale ) in American Psycho. This was most likely done on purpose, to make Joker feel like an almost alien character, and it worked. Joker/ Arthur was on of the most unique characters I have ever seen on screen. He also made the Joker his own, while yes, keeping some minor elements to past Jokers ( most simularly to Heath Ledger’s Joker ) it was a brilliantl fresh new take on the clown prince of crime. Constantly giving off a feeling of uneasyness and remains fresh by not being so predictible as so many modern movies are.
The film also deals a great deal with mental health, as Arthur slowly becomes his Joker persona. A thing the film got high critisisms for. The following statement I came up with applies to all kinds of cinema.
“If you watch a gangster movie, don’t be offended if someone gets shot. If you watch a movie about the holocast, don’t be offended if a lot of Jewish characters die. If you watch a movie about a psychopath, don’t offended if it deals with mental health.” -The Screenwriter
The source material and or description at the back of the DVD should give the viewer at least a vague idea of what they’ll see. Out of the 2019 released movies I’ve seen, Joker definately ranks near the top, if not the best one I saw. I haven’t seen all of the best actor nominated films, but I’m positive he at least deserved the nomination, if not the win. Overall, I’d give this film a 9.5./ 10.
Also, sorry for not mentioning Zazie Beetz’s character. There was so much going on in the film, I had to cut some things out to leave as to not give away everything.