Dir: Todd Phillips
Reviewed Oct 3, 2019
JOKER – profiling a listless plunge into delirium – starting at the halfway point
ONLY A TINY SPOILER AHEAD
Known to get into his roles, Joaquin Phoenix states he lost 52 pounds (23.5 kg) in anticipation of his role as Arthur Fleck, a dis-associative outcast comedian wannabe, who lives with and bathes his mother. He is socially awkward and ever slipping down the drainpipe of delusional dementia. As we meet him, he’s already stepping off that curb.
Phoenix is perfect here, as the delusional misfit dances awkwardly, yet in his mind gracefully, and whose injuries become a reflection of the society he disdains more with each passing painful day. Todd Philips’ direction is crafted and visually disturbing at times, while the pace is slow and measured, a perfect accompaniment to Fleck’s descent.
Yet by the end, I would have expected just a bit more . . . substance. Though the eventual arrest of fleck and his injured rescue from the back of a police vehicle from a clown-mask clad throng of rioters shows Joker has become a revered icon of revenge and hatred, I visualized in my mind where the movie would go, taking things to a new level, symbolizing the wrongness of the oppressive Gotham in its lesser days, showing us Joker’s attachment to the movement he unwillingly created.
Yet we are given a bit more, though it’s not . . . again, I struggle for a word . . . significant. Significance. Substance. Lacking these in the end are the only 2 minor letdowns, yet getting there is a near stunning panoply of character and change.