Joker Review


Courtesy of Warner Bros

Joker: In Theaters Now

Jason Wessel, Assistant Editor

Joker Review

Rated R

The clown frenzy continues. First IT 2 and now Joker. Read my review of IT 2 to learn more, but know that Joker is the clown movie worth watching this fall. One leg up Joker has is its ability to stand alone as a fantastic film. Despite the extensive comic book lore and other cinematic portrayals of the classic villain, Joker is entirely digestible without any preexisting knowledge of the character. Not only that, but the film actually exceeds at telling a cohesive and engaging story. The movie could be a more generic IP focusing solely on mental illness without much effort, and that’s to its benefit. Regarding mental illness the movie was entirely surreal, but grounded in reality. 

The film’s cinematography crafted the Joker’s character with jumps so dangerously logical that you frequently sympathize with him, and practically feel like linear progression rather than leaps. My friends and I did not expect this in the slightest. He was not simply a “crazy” guy doing crazy things, but instead a mentally ill person down on his luck and forced into a corner. The “crazy” barrier, which he crossed, was his response. He lashed out and felt no remorse. This progression was entirely plausible–on a side note, the film’s cinematography played with very engaging portrayals of mental illness; hallucinations and disorders–another engaging note is the film’s realistic portrayal of violence.

The movie’s violence was dirty, blunt, and for the most part reactive. I personally prefer this style ten times over the hyper-stylized quick cuts and professional grade choreographed sequences. In the real world, a fight between a homeless man and a rich businessman in a dimly lit subway is not agile nor fluid, but rather blunt and reactive. The characters lash out unexpectedly. Their movements are awkward and clumsy. Actions happen in a split second, leaving no time to cut the scene five times in the span of five seconds. The violence in Joker feels real and supports the entire film’s disturbingly tense feeling that this could unfold today or tomorrow. For a similar portrayal watch Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver

Furthermore, the only moment I felt began to stray from anchored realism and bordered on outlandish comic book fantasy was the “this is something greater” moment near the end. Minor-spoiler alert. Joker gained steam as a socioeconomic political movement, but honestly, this almost felt as real as the rest of the film. Internally I equated it to Greta Thurnberg becoming the face of climate change. It actually is possible for one single person to champion a growing political movement in our polarized political landscape, but this is no place to comment on that. Joker played its hand so well that the only “misstep” or break in immersion was dismissable and arguably further supported its overarching narratives and cinematography. 

Joker is  a genuinely great film. You will be entirely unnerved at its imagery and messages, but also at your own internal feelings towards these very same images and messages. It was astoundingly well versed and entertaining; a must see.