In 1981 Gotham City, a struggling, mentally ill comic battles to be seen. His life takes a dark, gut-wrenching turn after he lashes back at attackers.

Year: 2019
Certificate: 15
Runtime: 2hr 1m
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin PhoenixRobert De NiroZazie BeetzFrances ConroyBrett CullenGlenn FleshlerBill CampShea WhighamMarc Maron

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One billion at the box office is no joke!

First and foremost “Joker” is not what people may expect when they think of the character, at least a film carrying the name. An intense look at society under a microscope and how we treat those who may be struggling, especially with mental illness, is probably not what most people would expect from a Joker story yet it works and it works very well.

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown, has long had dreams of becoming a comedian. He has suffered from mental illness and is being medicated and assisted by local services. After having been beaten down by society and attacked one evening he shoots down his three attackers still dressed as a clown and inadvertently starts a revolution in the heart of a crime-ridden Gotham accelerating his descent into madness.

I think the biggest standout here is obviously Joaquin Phoenix. He doesn’t ever try to emulate previous iterations of the character – very much making his own mark on the big screen history of Joker. Like I said previously, this is a character piece, there’s no real big set pieces. It is a personal and intimate story of one man’s journey and how society shaped him and exploited his vulnerabilities.

The aesthetic is bleak and drab and done so in order reflect how Arthur sees the world around him and, in turn, how others treat him. The cast is fleshed out well under Todd Phillips‘ direction and, while some who are looking for something a bit more fast paced may tire by the end, overall it’s a well written and strong piece of cinema.

Not a criticism as such but I will point out that while this movie serves as a potential origin for the Joker it would be for a Joker we have yet to see. By this I mean jumping from Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the character to any currently known iterations would not work. It would very much have to move in its own direction to cater for the complexities and character quirks introduced.

Overall, this politically charged entry into the mind of Gotham’s most notorious villain is most definitely worth your time.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

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