Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro,
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
Runtime: 2 h 2 min
After watching a bit of Todd Phillip’s Joker you get the strong feeling that Phillip’s really hopes that you’ve never seen Taxi Driver. To say that he mines that particular film seems like a understatement since there are multiple direct references to it through out. Needless to say, Phillip’s film isn’t as groundbreaking as it thinks it is. The story of a disaffected loner pushed to the edge is story that’s been told multiple times particularly in Taxi Driver or the underappreciated Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer. The film can stand on its own merit with some wonderfully composed shots that really leave you feeling grimy and dirty. Ultimately though, the gas in this particular vehicle is Joaquin Phoenix who throws himself into the roles with such intensity that it’s hard to look away. His performance elevates the material and makes the whole thing much more prestigious and watchable than it deserves to be. As for the story, it’s an interesting take on this character but it’s hard to tell if Phillip’s wants us to root for character or despise him. Nearing the finale you get a sense that Phillip’s is propping him up as a sort of hero of madness and chaos which is a strange message to send in a film like this even as some of the more ham fisted attempts at modern day relevancy fall flat. It’s certainly a film that will draw plenty of discussion even though it’s really a shadow of better films.