Review by Hussain Al-Naseer (movie maniac, critic and writer)
Don’t Worry No Spoiler’s Here’:
OK so let’s start with DC universe, which is known for its darker version of story telling but struggling for some past decade when compared with its competitor “MCU” when it comes to Motion pictures, despite of the fact that DC universe has some iconic and registered characters such as BATMAN, SUPER MAN. It can simply be judged by the fact that my grandfather / mother may not know who Iron Man or Thor is or even I didn’t know about the Doctor Strange until I’ve seen the trailer of the movie which made me curious to explore the character but in case of Batman or Super Man they are the synonyms when you say the word super hero to all generations but Warner Bro’s couldn’t capitalize over it, continuous average and sometimes even bad direction, story-line, character castings took the franchise into darkness itself. However, some notable movies like Wonder Woman, Aqua Man and Shazam put some resistance but that was all too late.
Only character with which DC have successfully created an impact is Joker played by Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight directed by our very own Christopher Nolan. “Joker” the iconic villain portrayed by Ledger become so popular that it’s been a decade and people are still so not over with it how the maniac has created trouble in Gotham city and how he pissed off our Batman. Ledger was so convincing that people loved every moment of the Joker in the movie and just can’t get over it until now in 2019.
Now Warner Bro’s took another way round instead of focusing on Super Hero’s they started focusing on their villains and their origin stories. Joker was on the top of the list which was very obvious but considering the DC’s past it was a high risk because ruining this character would be the last nail in the coffin for WB’s also considering the fact that people cant imagine but Heath Ledger as their Joker because only Ledger could’ve surpass the level and benchmark that he had created which can justify Joker, Unfortunately it was not possible as there was No Ledger to do that. Still WB’s took the bold step to move forward with the project but we fans knew that no actor could match the ledger’s performance and the film would be absolute disaster anyway.
Joker – The Movie:
Joaquin Phoenix as Joker and Todd Phillips as its writer director and producer was not that much convincing for me at first when it was announced. No questions to the Phoenix as an actor but it’s the role of Joker bloody Joker which was not a Joke and Todd Phillips the director of Hangover franchise also raised questions as DC is dark and could he pull that off?
Despite of all reservations I would give it to WB’s that all the hype they created after the first trailer but still its about Joker and honestly everyone had their reservations despite of all the hype and a good trailer.
The Cinematic Experience:
The moment I saw the first scene of the movie where phoenix is doing his makeup of Joker with deliberately making that iconic extended smile with his bare hands on his face, A closeup face shot where suddenly tears started to fall, it took me somewhere else and yes it was just the first scene.
The story shows the late 70’s condition of Gotham city where there was economic unrest, income disparity nothing but anger and depression among the general people against the High-class rich people which is highly relatable to us as Pakistani.
The story roams around the Arthur Fleck aka Joker a mentally depressed having pre medical condition and somehow being bullied by everyone he met. The story gets darker and darker as Fleck experiences new traumas each and every day making him nothing but a bizarre cold-blooded maniac we know as “Joker” in the end.
Film’s direction, tight screenplay, background score and cinematography everything was touching the right notes and was so perfect that it would indulge you so into it and will take your brain and heart in to another universe which is Dark literally Dark.
Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck aka Joker:
Despite of everything being perfect i.e. direction, screenplay, background score, cinematography etc. the movie still belongs to Phoenix, he has over shadowed every single aspect of the movie through his effortless and convincing acting. 2 hours 2 mins movie has Phoenix in almost each and every frame and my GOD what he has done is absolutely phenomenal, he has portrayed Arthur Fleck so effortlessly that at some point I started empathizing with the character, the innocence, the simplicity the facial expressions, the physique all will make you connect and fall in love with Arthur.
Phoenix has outclassed each and everything with perfection whether it’s bizarre and nervous Laugh, the unique dancing which he is fond of, the diary where he writes whatever he feels and carries with him everywhere he goes. Scenes with the legend Robert De Niro are my personal favorites, first scene where Arthur imagined himself in the late-night show where he interacts with his icon Murray Franklin played by De Niro and the dialogues between them with Arthur being completely honest and innocent was nothing but love and the scene just before climax where Arthur has done taking shit and has evolved as The “JOKER” actually went to the Murray Franklin’s show and confess everything, heated dialogues between Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) and Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) will get into your nerves.
I’ll go with 4.5 out of 5, the only .5 score which I’ve deducted is because the only thing I miss in this film was in the climax where there was a chaos in Gotham city, joker was badly injured and rescued by other maniacs masked as joker, Joker somehow stood by and extended his iconic scar smile with his own blood and laughed all happening in the bold background music which brings the audience to the edge of the seats all tensed, it should have followed by joker’s iconic dialogue addressing the theatre audience “WHY SO SERIOUS”, but sadly it didn’t happen.
To All Critics:
Yes, the movie is very dark and will remain with you for the time being and can take you to another realm but we movie freaks live on those realms, our imagination is so freaky that we not only live on those moments but we embrace it.
Now to those who are saying that the movie is irresponsible and can bring political and social unrest, just take a “CHILL PILL” the movie is about Arthur Fleck and the evolution of Joker and keep it like that, don’t ruin this master piece with your so called intellectual other side of the coin theory as that ship has already been sailed the movie just portrayed the bitter reality of the social and political irony of the society which we are already living.
“Do watch this movie once in a Cinema as this type of cinematic experience comes in decades”.
NOTE: Please Do Not and I repeat Do Not compare Heath’s Joker with Phoenix’s Joker because both are phenomenal in their own realm.