Review – Joker (2019)
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Produced by: Todd Phillips & Bradley Cooper
Written by: Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
Release Date: October 4th 2019
A couple of years ago Joaquin Phoenix starred in a movie called You Were Never Really Here. It was directed by Lynne Ramsay and from the trailers, it looked like it could turn out to be something pretty great. Unfortunately when I saw the movie, I felt that it was nothing more than a poor man’s Taxi Driver, with the same regurgitated ideas and not much more to say.
Then I saw 2019’s Joker.
Let’s forget about the incredibly engaging performances and solid technical filmmaking elements in this movie for a minute. And let’s forget all of the baggage and background lore that comes with the huge pop culture characters of the Joker, the Wayne family and Gotham City.
Instead, ask yourself this; if this you removed all of the DC elements from this movie, for example Gotham is just NYC, Thomas Wayne is just a rich powerful man running for office and Arthur Fleck is just a random loner with a screw loose, would this movie still be as remarkable?
I enjoyed getting to revisit Joker for review. I appreciate the fact that it portrays a version of my favourite fictional character that I hadn’t seen before, but it wasn’t a story that I haven’t seen before outside of a Joker story. One of my favourite things about Joker is how much it reminds me of Taxi Driver, but when all is said and done, I still prefer Taxi Driver.
I can’t review Joker too negatively because it is clearly well made by a bunch of very talented people and I did enjoy my time with it, but after reading the intensely positive reviews this thing got at the film festivals before its release I was looking for something more than a story I have seen done better decades ago.
At the same time though, it is undoubtedly a film that demands multiple viewings. I hardly stopped thinking about the movie after the first time I saw it, wanting to discuss it with anybody that would listen. It has also led to so much online speculation regarding its deeper meaning and subtext since its release, so there is certainly something to be said about that element of it.
My rating changed after the second time I saw it and it has changed again whilst re-watching it for review. Joker is a very enjoyable re-tread of a story that we have seen before told several times over.
The question is, just because you throw a popular comic book character’s name over the top of it, is that enough to make it more worthwhile than all of the other Taxi Driver homages we have gotten over the years?
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