Barrett Brief Movie Review-The Joker Movie Greatest Trick

Written by on 10/03/2019

The Joker Movie Greatest Trick

Summary: A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.

The primary trait that I look for when I review a movie is does it accomplish what it sets out to be. Well, the Joker Movie does. When looking at how it categorizes itself, three genres come up; Thriller, Drama, Crime.  I wanted to see if it could accomplish was the Thriller aspect. Because if it does that, the other two will follow suit. 

In order to understand, here are the primary traits of a thriller:

  1. Good Story
  2. Has to be about an underdog
  3.  It has to lay out the wants and fears of the protagonist
  4. Has to teach us something
  5. Main character HAS to be miserable
  6. must have high pacing.

Out of these 6 criteria, the Joker Movie lands on 5 of them. The only area it does not satisfy is the pacing (I’ll explain that later). After all that, lets get to the spoiler free version.

Joaquin Phoenix Carries The Joke 

Arthur Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) does a spectacular job embodying the character of Arthur. This script and story lend themselves to classic over the top “I’M INSANE!” type of performances. for the most part, it is the subtleness of his portray of the man that society forgot that leads to how impactful it can be. This is Phoenix’s movie, and he holds your attention from the beginning to end. Uniquely, he downplays the underdog characteristic, never begging the audience to feel bad for him. His wants and fears are established fleshed out & he sells the misery that the story puts him through. As can be seen by all the controversy that surrounds the film, the lesson that it sets out to teach is not clear cut. The story is the classic death to rebirth and Phoenix not only hits all the beats, he makes sure they matter.  

Todd Phillips does not bomb 

Since Todd Phillips is best known for the Hangover Trilogy, being tapped to direct this was a bit confusing. Not to insult him, but one could be forgiven if you would be puzzled. However, since he has let it be know that he is no longer interested in comedy, this film gives him a chance to expand out. Consequently, Phillips shows restrain in many of these shots. Thus he has no problem giving Phoenix a chance to breath in many scenes. Many directors would try to use shorter takes and quicker cuts to establish an uneasy feeling, but Phillips shows the confidence in the story and his actor. (It should be noted that he co-wrote the film as well)

Accordingly, the rest of the cast is fine. It’s good to see that Robert De Niro stopped spouting his #orangemanbad nonsense. As a result he was able to participate in a film someone would actual want to pay money for. 

Not A Home run Performance

Although the film is very well acted & directed, it is not perfect. Notably it is the pacing. The film felt very slow for the first 2 acts. I do understand the reason for this, we the audience have to identify (that does not mean sympathize) with our protagonist. However, the third act is spectacular. Therefore, one almost wants to give the first 2/3 of the film a pass, almost. 

Finally, I know why SJW’s hate this film. The Joker saves his best trick for the end of the film (which I will not spoil). Suffice it to say, I got a chuckle out of it. 

Overall

While not a “Tour De Force” due to pacing issues, the Joker Movie is a solid thriller for those who are fans of the genre. One of the few films you will remember long after the final credits roll.

Score: 4 1/2 Briefcases out of 5 

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