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Film Review - Joker (2019)

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A passionate screenwriter and freelance blogger with deep interest in horror, action, and documentary films.

Joker (2019) Movie Poster

Joker (2019) Movie Poster

Overview

Joker (2019) is a American thriller film directed by Todd Phillips and screenplay written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver. The film is produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, Joint Effort, Bron Creative, and Village Roadshow Pictures. Joker (2019) is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It was first released in Venice, Italy at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2019. It was then released in American theaters on October 4, 2019. The film has grossed over $1.074 billion in box office revenue, making it one of the 6th-highest-grossing films during 2019. Joker (2019) has also gotten 11 nominations and four awards from the Academy Awards. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Joker, Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond, and Penny Fleck as Frances Conroy.

Director Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix at Joker (2019) movie premiere

Director Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix at Joker (2019) movie premiere

Summary

The beginning of the film starts out with Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) as a party clown and a sign spinner in the streets of Gotham City. He also lives with his mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy) in a small run-down apartment. Arthur meets with his social service therapist to get medicines, revealing that he suffers from a mental condition that makes him laugh hysterically in difficult situations. At work, Arthur gets beaten up by a group of street kids in the alleyway and tells his co-workers about it. Arthur’s co-worker, Randall (Glenn Fleshler) hands him a revolver for self-protection against any violent aggressors. Back at the apartment, Arthur invites his neighbor Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz) to go see his nightclub stand-up comedy. Sophie Dumond agrees to go his stand-up.

Arthur Fleck after getting beaten up by group of street kids

Arthur Fleck after getting beaten up by group of street kids

Arthur Fleck meets with his social service therapist

Arthur Fleck meets with his social service therapist

Back at work, Arthur entertains childrens at the hospital and accidentally drops the revolver on the ground. Randall sets up Arthur by saying that Arthur purchased the gun and the boss fires Arthur. After getting fired at work, Arthur takes a ride home on the subway. Three drunk businessmen harass and beat Arthur up. Fuming up, Arthur shoots the two drunk businessmen on the subway and the last flees from the train. Arthur catches up to the last businessman and shoots him multiple times near the stairs. Arthur runs away and heads to the bathroom. Alone in the bathroom, he starts to dance and shows no sign of remorse for the killings.

Arthur Fleck in costume clown suit, entertaining children at the hospital

Arthur Fleck in costume clown suit, entertaining children at the hospital

Arthur Fleck harrassed by a drunk businessman in the subway train

Arthur Fleck harrassed by a drunk businessman in the subway train

Arthur Fleck dancing alone in the bathroom

Arthur Fleck dancing alone in the bathroom

Next day, Penny watches the news unfold about the murders of three businessmen at the subway. Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) makes a public statement that all low-lives are “clowns”, which angers people in Gotham City. A huge protest with clown masks erupts at the city hall. At the comedy nightclub, Sophie watches Arthur do his stand-up comedy and he fails to entertain them. The two start to date and romantically fall in love. Back at home, Arthur watches his favorite late night show host, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) on T.V.. Murray makes fun of Arthur’s poor stand-up comedy performance, which upsets Arthur. The next day, Arthur finds a letter written by Penny and finds out that he is Thomas’s son.


Arthur Fleck watches Thomas Wayne make a public statement on the murders of three businessmen at the subway station

Arthur Fleck watches Thomas Wayne make a public statement on the murders of three businessmen at the subway station

Arthur Fleck doing stand-up at the comedy nightclub

Arthur Fleck doing stand-up at the comedy nightclub

He pays a visit to Thomas Wayne’s mansion and meets Bruce Wayne (Dante Pereira-Olson) for the first time. Alfred Pennyworth (Douglas Hodge) tells Arthur to leave and tells him that they know who he is. Back at home, Arthur finds out that Penny collapsed and is sent to the hospital. At the hospital, two police detectives ask Arthur about the subway murders and Arthur denies knowing anything about it. The next day, Arthur heads to the theater and disguises himself as a theater employee. Arthur sees Thomas heading to the bathroom and follows him. Arthur asks Thomas if he is Thomas’s son and Thomas tells Arthur that Penny has lost her mind. Arthur pleading Thomas to tell the truth, gets punched in the face instead. Arthur goes to the Arkham State Hospital and finds out about Penny’s mental instability. He steals Penny’s file and discovers that Arthur was adopted.


Arthur Fleck meets Bruce Wayne for the first time

Arthur Fleck meets Bruce Wayne for the first time

Arthur Fleck confronts Thomas Wayne about his childhood upbringing

Arthur Fleck confronts Thomas Wayne about his childhood upbringing

Arthur Fleck inside a elevator at the Arkham State Hospital

Arthur Fleck inside a elevator at the Arkham State Hospital

Returning back home, Arthur enters Sophie’s unit and sits on the couch. Sophie tells Arthur to leave and he finds out that the romantic relationship he had with her was all a imagination. Next morning, Arthur tells Penny about the lies she’s been telling and smothers Penny to death in her hospital bed. At the apartment, Arthur gets a phone call from Murray’s assistant that they wanted Arthur as a guest on their late night show. He gets a surprise visit from Randall and his friend Gary (Leigh Gill). Arthur angers Randall for setting him up, kills him and let’s Gary live.

Arthur Fleck sitting by Penny Fleck's side

Arthur Fleck sitting by Penny Fleck's side

Arthur Fleck gets a suprise visit from Randall and Gary

Arthur Fleck gets a suprise visit from Randall and Gary

On the way to the late night show, Arthur gets chased by two detectives on the subway train filled with clown masked protesters. A fight breaks out between the detectives and protesters. Arthur escapes and leaves the subway station. He arrives at the late night show and meets Murray backstage. Arthur asks Murray to introduce him as the “Joker”. The late night show starts, Joker admits to Murray that he murdered the three businessmen at the subway station. Joker tells Murray that society doesn’t care about low-lives like him and Murray calls for police. Joker shoots Murray in the head with a revolver as the crowd leaves the show in panic.


Fight brawl unfolds in the subway station

Fight brawl unfolds in the subway station

Arthur Fleck walks away from the fight in the subway station

Arthur Fleck walks away from the fight in the subway station

Arthur Fleck introduced as the "Joker"

Arthur Fleck introduced as the "Joker"

Murray Franklin interviews the Joker

Murray Franklin interviews the Joker

Joker inside the police car, sees the massive riot and chaos unfold in Gotham City. A protester kills Thomas Wayne and his wife with a pistol in the alleyway. Protesters deliberately crash into the police car with Joker inside. The protesters crack the windows and grab unconscious Joker out of the police car. Joker wakes up and the crowd of protesters cheer for him. At the finale, Joker is sent into Arkham Mental Institution and interrogated by a therapist. He escapes once again and leaves a trail of blood as he leaves the hallway.


Joker sees the massive riot unfold inside the police car

Joker sees the massive riot unfold inside the police car

Thoms Wayne and his wife shot by a protester

Thoms Wayne and his wife shot by a protester

Joker cheered by the crowd

Joker cheered by the crowd

Joker escapes the mental institution

Joker escapes the mental institution

Review

Joker (2019) is the first film to be rated R. With the amount of violence and brutal killings shown on screen, this film should be watched with discretion. Overall, Joaquin Phoenix did a fantastic job as the Joker and has his own unique style of portraying the character. Different from the other previous Jokers played by Leto and Ledger, Phoenix takes on a more gruesome role and dives deeper into the mental side of the Joker. For any DC or even Marvel fans who want an emotional and dramatic movie, this is the movie they should definitely see. Joker (2019) is now streaming on HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.


Behind The Scenes of Joker (2019)

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© 2020 Daniel Won

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