What do I say about this? I mean admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about whether they could pull this off, given it would supposedly be a Joker origin story, so even with Joaquin Phoenix’s attachment in mind as the Joker, who I’ve long admired as an actor, I was still somewhat skeptical! As it turns out, once I saw the film I was both pleasantly surprised and divided.
Basically, Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a “mentally ill” character living in Gotham City with his mother, who tries to make a living as a stand-up comedian and clown. Now Todd Phillips directs this as well, who funnily enough being the director of films like the Hangover trilogy you might not immediately think he could balance this kind of film, but he really does, pulling off a certain nihilistic, ugly tone within the context of a “grounded” character study and reflection of society, that definitely raises more questions than answers even as it supposedly identifies with the “left-behind” (although again, more questions than answers are raised).
And on another note, initially I felt I’d give this film five stars, but now it’s really sunk in, I might give it four. That’s not a reflection of the quality at all, it’s just now I can really see how it’s more of a marmite film than anything, in a sense, with its consistent nihlistic ugly tone that arguably forces us to take a look in the mirror, and could not be more seperate than the likes of mainstream Marvel films.
On a final note then, I definitely think Phoenix should be nominated for an Oscar. Typically the Academy seems to ignore genres like comic-book stuff, but given how well he completely succeeds, and given how unique and questioning this film feels, he’s really worth a look as an actor in terms of qualifying for a nomination here!