REVIEW: ‘Joker’s (2019) Complete Lack of Direction Plays in its Favour

Rating: 4 out of 4.

“It’s the perfect example of the complete mess the film industry has fallen into – when the plot makes no sense but at the same time makes perfect sense.”

Joker is the origin story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a party clown who dreams of being a stand-up comedian, who lives in 1980s crime filled Gotham. 

Joker is by far the weirdest, most polarizing and definitely the most disturbing film of the year. Phoenix’s performance is great but the plot is a chaotic mess of plot holes, borderline traumatising moments and a complete lack of any direction. You feel like you are on a massive rollercoaster that leads to nowhere and you don’t know how to get off. 

Yet, somehow for Joker, the complete lack of any direction plays in its favour. It’s the perfect example of the complete mess the film industry has fallen into – when the plot makes no sense but at the same time makes perfect sense to the audience, because we are living in such unsettling times where nothing in the world makes sense anymore. 

Many people are praising the film for its portrayal of mental illness, the working class and the American government’s inability to help those in need. Yet this praise many soon turn into an over glorification of real world issues – we’ve already seen the infamous quote “the worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t” being thrown around various social media sites such as twitter and instagram. While this may be true and very relatable to many, instead of just sharing the quote on twitter, how about as a society we do something about it? 

It’s almost as if Joker is sending us a warning, it tells us “hey look at this mess we’re creating, look at these dangerous figures that are being created”. Yes, Arthur isn’t to blame for his mental illness or the fact he doesn’t receive help, but he does some unforgiveable things. 

Joker has the potential to create a legacy and spread a message, but  instead its legacy will be its ability to cause varying fights on twitter because of its polarizing plot. 

One thing that everybody can agree on however, is Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. Phoenix is definitely the main reason for this film’s success; his ability to take a much loved but terrifying comic book character, bring him to life and almost humanise him is terrifying. It leaves you feeling like the Joker is real, whereas before he was simply a comic book character. Phoenix takes away that safety blanket and creates a real life monster. 

Attempting to break down this film and analyse it will get you nowhere; everyone’s going to have a different opinion on it and it will either cause an argument or some kind of social media outrage. Is it a film people should watch? Yes . Is it one to watch more than once? No. Why? Because the feeling of shock and nausea one feels when leaving is almost too much to bear.  

Dir: Todd Phillips. 

Prod: Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

Written: Todd Phillips and Scott Silver 

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix. 

Release Date: October 4th 2019