Review: ‘Joker’ storyline thrills viewers

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I was floored.

There are certain times in your life when you sit down to watch something and you don’t want it to end. Seeing “Joker” was one of those moments for me. I’ve never been more moved, or terrified by a single film.

“Joker” is a standalone story focusing on the origins of the titular comic book villain. Arthur Fleck is a poor party clown living in the poverty-stricken Gotham City in 1981. The setting is heavily inspired by the late 70s and early 80s New York City.

Director Todd Philips was able to portray the metamorphosis of Arthur Fleck into Joker in such a holistic fashion that it begs the viewer to return to the theater and re-watch the film, which I know I will be doing. Philips uses the small things Arthur does in the beginning of the movie to contrast with the larger-than-life acts of villainy performed by Joker. He also presents the parallels between Arthur and Joker by mirroring the color and frame of individual shots from the first act with similar ones in the second act.

The greatest actors are able to not only play the part, but also become completely lost within their character, which Joaquin Phoenix did in his role as Arthur. Phoenix plays a character playing a character in this story. The audience feels the layers of emotion and madness that Arthur is muddling through when they meet him at the beginning of the movie.

The loneliness of madness combined with the frustration of not having anyone care in the slightest about his struggle turns a person into a ticking time-bomb. Phoenix embodies this type of explosive personality beautifully in “Joker.” His performance shocked me, made me smile and even had me swell up with pity.

In witnessing the birth of a killer in “Joker,” we see what may be happening with sad and lonely people living in the world today. There is only a limited amount of heartbreak, lies, abandonment and ridicule that people can take before they break. Even less so when mixed with serious mental illness. Society has come a long way in the way that it perceives the mentally ill, but there are still those who withstand a great deal of suffering every day of their lives without saying anything.

This movie took an enormous risk in today’s age of mass shootings and wanton bloodshed by portraying the inception of a mass killer. But the risk was worth it. There isn’t a movie that exists that reveals its protagonist to the viewer to the extent that this one does. You feel every emotion of Arthur as you witness him unraveling through a realistic series of traumatic events.

The truly horrifying part of it all is that the viewer doesn’t know what Arthur, or Joker befitting to the nature of the character, will do along the way. The lines between daydream and reality are blurred as his story progresses.

I can’t think of a single movie I’ve watched thus far in my life that has evoked this kind of a response. “Joker” is a legendary work of art that might just be my new favorite film of all time.

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