Joker is a depressing, creepy look at society


Joaquin Phoenix performance in “Joker” earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Josh Ghiorso

“Joker,” which hit the big screen Oct. 4, is a movie about a man who lives in a society where he feels invisible and abandoned. Joaquin Phoenix holds the movie together with an intense and all-out performance that captures the sadistic nature of the Joker character. He works perfectly with the camera as every shot seems perfectly planned out. 

However, a great performance and good cinematography are not enough to compensate for a boring, cliched script, a story that has nothing original or new to say and a run time that feels its length. All of this makes ‘’Joker’’ a mediocer movie that is simply under the guise of a comic book movie. While the film is very well-made and acted wonderfully, it borrows too much from its inspiration, “Taxi Driver,” in the ways in which it comments on what corrupt society and classism can do to an individual; and in doing so fails to say anything new or show through a new lense.  

Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck (Joker) and gives a stunning performance as the creepy villain in a 1980s Gotham City (closely resembling 1980s New York City), who is struggling to find out who he is, since he feels society has cast him aside. Alongside Phoenix, Frances Conroy, who plays Arthur’s mother, gives a performance that encapsulates tragedy and might be the most tragic character in the film. Robert De Niro does well as Murray Franklin, a talk show host who Arthur idolizes, playing a more subtle character and working well with Phoenix to build up the tension of the end of the movie.

Joker” takes clear inspiration from “Taxi Driver” as well as “The King Of Comedy,” from the themes it explores about an uncaring and society and of classism where the rich and powerful taking advantage of the poor and weak. However “Joker” says nothing new about society and classism that “Taxi Driver” does not already say, and quite frankly “Taxi Driver” says it better. The movie feels like Director Todd Phillips’ version of “Taxi Driver” but with the Joker character copied and pasted on top.

The film also suffers from weird pacing that makes it drag in the middle, slowing all of the momentum the movie had spent building. The lengthy run time is due to the insertion of a story line of parental nature involving Batman’s father, which slowed down the pace of the movie at a point at which the film should have picked up. While the attempt to connect this movie to a comic book seems like a good way to get people to see the movie, it feels tacked on and drags the movie down, all in order it seems to sell more tickets.