Joker Movie Review (2019) | Cast, plot, and more
The Joker has become one of the most beloved comic book villains since his introduction in 1960’s Detective Comics (later known as Detective Stories). Fans were delighted that Todd Phillips returned this unique character for a 2019 version. Joaquin Phoenix took on his iconic role, earning over $1 billion at box offices worldwide and receiving multiple Academy Award nominations as part of its critical and commercial success.
Cast and crew
Joaquin Phoenix excels as Arthur Fleck, an unsuccessful comedian who descends into madness to become the Joker. For this role, he shed 50 pounds, creating an intense performance that matches the physical and psychological transformation of Arthur Fleck into The Joker. Other standout performances come from Robert De Niro as talk show host Murray Franklin and Zazie Beetz as Arthur’s love interest Sophie Dumond.
Todd Phillips, most well-known for comedies such as The Hangover and Due Date, made an unexpected shift with this dark character study about mental illness, social inequality and the nature of evil.
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Joker takes place in 1981 Gotham City, an underbelly of crime and corruption where crime thrives unchecked. Arthur Fleck is a struggling stand-up comedian living with his mother. He suffers from an uncontrollable laughter disorder known as Parkinsonian Syndrome that makes him laugh inappropriately at inappropriate moments. Over time, his life spirals out of control until finally, out of frustration with society, he unleashes his inner demons to become The Joker.
Joker’s tale is one of great tragedy, and it speaks volumes of the filmmakers’ skill that they manage to elicit such empathy from audiences for a character so deeply disturbed and dangerous. Additionally, their exploration of mental illness makes for particularly poignant viewing, showing society failing those suffering from these conditions despite the devastating results that often follow.
Joker is an advantageous film filled with themes and symbolism, sure to spark debate among viewers. One prominent piece, in particular, is how society creates monsters; Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness due to systemic failures in Gotham City is directly tied to the injustices and inequalities faced.