Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) [C+]

Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is undoubtedly the boldest and refreshing superhero movie in this decade. In the era of MCU, “Joker” completely breaks the frame. The film is also a large-scale study of Martin Scorsese’s New York films such as “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy”. Together, the rebellious spirit of “Joker” is quite rare in today’s mainstream film market.

Arthur, our protagonist of the film is a man who is eager to get attention through violence and narcissism. The film portraits how capitalism annihilates humanity, and how the existences of individuals are negated by matter.

And here comes Joaquin Phoenix. He’s probably the last actor in the world that will join the superhero team, and yet he’s here for this iconic villain. Thanks to the energy he brings, his staring and laughter will make the audiences feel creepy throughout the entire film. You can feel the soul of his character, and his despair is flowing in his flesh.

“Joker” sneaks into the current political spectrum as a social comment. People are eager to get attention through media, but individuals are more alienated instead. For Arthur, it’s not his intention to be the symbol of revolution. Nevertheless, violence makes him feel dominant, less tragic, and killing empowers him.

Film, like other media forms, has its moral purpose. When a film loses its morality, the content has to be questioned. In this sense, “Joker” makes me feel uncomfortable. The fact that Arthur was abandoned, discriminated deserves our sympathy and deep thought, but his acts of violence should not be praised.

Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy” took an epic level to dig into the moral bottom line and dilemma of a hero as a symbol. Todd Phillips only want to use a single two-hour-length feature to make himself change into a serious director, he wants the joker to have both bright and dark side, making the film messy.


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