Rating (2.5 out of 5)
Summary: For others who love this director or actor, I am sure this a fantastic film but I just don’t see it. He starts crazy and ends crazy, except the crazy is elevated to new heights. The movie drags quite a bit as we explore his craziness and his laughing. So, there are also hallucinations moments throughout the film. This can be a great technique, but you are left wondering at each scene what is real and what isn’t.
Plot: Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is pushed around by society until eventually he goes full crazy and becomes the Joker.
Detail: People rave about Joaquin Phoenix acting. I will defer many of my comments, as I feel a separate blog post is required for the acting and directing awards. His acting was fine. It did not match Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, which was a stunning performance. I liken his performance as to Gerard Butler in the 300, except crazy versus macho. The actors only had to act the same way 100% of the time. The major feature of the acting in “Joker” involved a laughing/crying mode. Please.
Conceivably the movie was focusing our attention on the treatment of mental patients in the United States which is a subject worthy of our attention. However, since this is a make-believe city and the movie is set in the 1980s, this objective falls flat.
There was only one brief instance where I empathized with Arthur Fleck, and that is when he finally reads the file about his mother. I wanted this attachment to Arthur earlier in the film. I probably also wanted him to try to get better more than was depicted in the film, to create empathy for his character. For the most part, I just didn’t care about Arthur.
SPOILER!! Finally, there was some writing that I felt was convenient. For example, he kills his mother, but there are no alarms or loud equipment going off to signal problems. Maybe that equipment didn’t exist in 1980. There were other moments that felt, I am adding this “semi-realistic” scene merely to move the plot along. Contrived is a word I like to use.
Comic dorks will be talking about the Batman/Joker relationship for quite a while, which is probably one reason they enjoy the film. I didn’t need or want another Batman movie, so I didn’t really care.