Put On A Happy Face. An origin story that tells a tale of an unreliable narrator that finds the fractured punchline to the joke none expected to hear
A mentally-troubled aspiring stand-up comic deals with disappointment as he struggles in a fragmenting society. When a bad decision at his day job as a clown-for-hire brings about a dire chain of events, he embarks on journey of self discovery that parallels the city’s revolt along class lines. As his downward spiral consumes him, he finds his true self in a persona that will baptize him though bloody crime.
Arthur Fleck is a down on his luck mentally unstable man working at a clown-for-hire business with dreams of becoming a famous comedienne if he could overcome his current condition. Penny Fleck is Arthur’s mother who lives with him in their apartment and suffers from problems which seem to come with age but lead to an unhealthy fixation on her former boss, Thomas Wayne. Sophie Dumond is a single mother who lives in the same apartment building as Arthur and shares an awkward moment with him that helps to influence a shift of purpose. Murray Franklin is the host of a popular late night talk show who decides to give Arthur the spotlight after one of his recorded attempts at stand up becomes a hit on his show.
Joker is a dark cinematic journey through the mind of a mentally ill human being as they come to grips with not only the perceived origin of their mental illness, but also the place they can fill in society. I did not find this film as revolutionary as some since I have read comic book stories that have taken this particular character down much darker paths, but it was told in a timeless fashion. The performances by the cast help to give this motion picture an abrasive quality and Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of the titular character makes the experience worth it. Todd Phillips’ direction skillfully captures the gritty aspect of Gotham City while laying the groundwork to expose the film’s audience to an uncomfortable series of slightly askew events. Phillips with Scott Silver deliver a screenplay that could be from the Bronze Age of comic book storytelling as they delve into details of the character’s background that connect him to a family name that is as synonymous with Gotham as Arkham Asylum. The fact that this movie brings to mind other films such as Taxi Driver, King of Comedy, Fight Club & Requiem For A Dream shows that it has the right tone for the story it is telling, but I must say that the cinematic gems I just mentioned are all better works than this one. It pays some time being a throwback to a different era that at certain points it seems to lose its train of thought which keep it from being iconic in my humble opinion. I rate this movie a rating of 4 out of 5.