I don’t know what in the world I was expecting, but this wasn’t it! Joaquin Phoenix is a really weird dude and an unbelievably talented actor. And he uses every ounce of that talent along with the weirdness to play this role. Phoenix plays Arthur fleck, a guy who lives with his mother and has been in different mental institutions over the years. He sees a social worker once a month and has a job as a clown who is hired to do parties and stand outside of stores with a sign.
It is hard to tell if you are watching what is actually going on or what he is living in his mind. That part is both confusing and chilling when you realize some of the normal activity is nothing but scenes he has conjured up in his mind. His mother has told him he was put on this earth to bring joy and happiness to other people. He wants to be a standup comedian and keeps a journal of jokes along with other bizarre writings. He also suffers from a condition that makes him erupt into fits of laughter. It happens so often at the worst times that he has a card he hands to people explaining the condition. His idol is a late-night talk show host named Murray, played by Robert De Niro. He watches the show every night and imagines himself on the show. He has so much going on in his head you can’t keep up with it. But the one thing that is constant in this movie is Phoenix. His performance is eerie and uncomfortable, but so compelling that you can’t look away from the screen. When he finally kills someone he makes that final step over into total madness and then the movie gets even crazier! OK, calm down, that is not a spoiler. You walk into this movie knowing he’s not going to be helping old ladies cross the street, feed stray cats, and save the whales! He’s the Joker for goodness sakes! He’s not here to do away with straws, he’s here to create mayhem!
The movie is just over two hours, Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.
This might be about a comic book character, but it is not a comic book movie. This is dark, humorless, trip into mental illness, and what it can lead to if the proper help is not provided. There is no enjoyment whatsoever in theses 2 hours. That is not to say that it’s not a good movie. The movie does exactly what it set out to do and they could not have picked a better person to play the Joker. This is not the Cesar Romero Joker, or the Jack Nicholson Joker, this is not even, God rest his soul, Heath Ledger’s Joker. Although I think Heath Ledger played the Joker as dark as can be done and still be in a Batman comic book movie. Joaquin Phoenix’s gives us a Joker that is haunting, and very uncomfortable to watch. He lost over 50 pounds for this role and he looked bizarre which added to the role
This is one that I have to say is a great piece of cinematic art that I did not enjoy watching. Joaquin Phoenix should get an Oscar for a performance that I can’t wait to get out of my mind. Go see if you want to but don’t blame me for how you feel afterwards.
My Score: 5 Budweisers based on Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in the feel bad movie of the year.