Monday, October 7, 2019

Joker (2019) Movie - Plot and Review

joaquin phoenix joker wallpaper image picture poster screensaver

This post contains spoilers and readers are recommended to watch the movie before proceeding further.

The (purportedly) standalone origin story stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover trilogy, Due Date) has directed the picture.

Check out the trailer:

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a clown for hire and an aspiring stand-up comedian. Arthur has some psychological issues and is on medicines. He laughs out uncontrollably when under stress and carries a placard asking onlookers to ignore his outbursts. Arthur also has a gaunt physique to match his fragile mindset.

The movie charts the steady descent of Arthur into madness and perhaps unsurprisingly, we get to see Joaquin Phoenix in literally each frame. 

joker mother penny fleck wallpaper image picture poster screensaver

Torn between his career ambitions and personal duty to take care of his ailing mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy), Arthur looks up to Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) as his mentor/role model. Arthur also has a crush on his neighbor/single mother, Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz).

Arthur is regularly picked on by bullies and street punks day in and day out. Randall (Glenn Fleshler), one of Arthur's colleagues, provides him a gun for self-defense. It does not help that Murray himself makes fun of Arthur.

As the final nail in the coffin, his state sponsored therapist informs him that their sessions will be over soon, due to lack of public funds.

joker subway train scene screenshot wallpaper image picture poster screensaver

All this inner rage and frustration boils over, when Arthur is bullied by three Wall Street types. Using the aforementioned gun, Arthur turns the tables on his tormentors and becomes the poster child for the oppressed/downtrodden sections of Gotham.

From then on, it all goes downhill as Arthur discovers the truth about his troubled childhood. He then goes to murder his mother, his colleague and finally Murray himself.

This was one of the darkest cinematic experiences I have had so far. At a time, when mass shootings are happening in a disturbingly regular basis, making and releasing this movie seems to be a very poor choice in judgment by the director and the studio.

todd phillips directing joaquin phoenix joker movie wallpaper image picture poster screensaver

Acting wise, Joaquin as expected gives his all and has delivered an absorbing performance. De Niro looks to be miscast as a popular host. Speaking of the female leads, both Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy have limited scope to perform and are pretty much one dimensional characters.

The movie excels in the technical aspects. The production design by Mark Friedberg and cinematography by Lawrence Sher are top notch.

While the lead actor might win acting awards and the movie will make lot of money for the studio, thus taking forward the director's career much ahead, there is also the matter of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The movie has been well made and scores on both acting and technical fronts. But does the DC supervillain really need an origin story, that humanizes him and in a way justifies his crimes?

That is the moot question.

joker black girlfriend wallpaper image picture poster screensaver

Looks like Todd Phillips wanted to make a Martin Scorsese type NYC based gritty movie set in the 1980s and since Warner Bros is always looking to make money using the DC Comics based characters, an unholy alliance was made. A truly disturbing decision was made to turn Travis Bickle/Rupert Pupkin into the Joker.

We DC Fans deserve better. 

Despite being a lifelong fan of DC Comics, I cannot recommend this movie. For great Joker performances, I would suggest the readers to check out either The Dark Knight or Batman (1989) or  Batman: Under the Hood or Batman: The Animated Series. I would take any one of these far superior ones over this version.

Click here to read all my posts about DC Comics.

Image Sources: BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Joint Effort, Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros.


  1. I was less concerned with some of the subtext - and found the violence relatively tame to be honest - and the film did do what it set out to do, which was to sneak a modern remake of Taxi Driver into a major studio picture. As imitation it was near flawless but it lacked conviction for me. However, I found Phoenix mesmerising. Nice to have you back blogging!

    1. Thanks GK!

      I too found Phoenix to be the best part of the movie.

      The movie die not resonate with me either. Probably because Todd Phillips did not have an original vision.