What Did You Think of “Joker”?

We finally watched Joker over the weekend. Overall, I thought it was a solid movie with some great direction and acting. I’ll share my spoiler-free thoughts below.

Perhaps first and foremost, it was fascinating to watch a supervillain origin story that isn’t at all a superhero movie. It’s just a movie about a sad, crazy man in Gothan City. There are no super powers, no mutations or magic, no hero, no big fight scene. Yet I think it’s aided significantly by the fact that it’s an origin story about a villain we know from the comics and previous movies.

There are two specific elements of the Joker’s character that I thought were particularly clever: One, I like that he has a condition that results in him laughing uncontrollably at inappropriate times. It fits his character perfectly, it seems like a real condition (perhaps it is?), and the audience can relate to it–at some point in all of our lives, we’ve laughed at the wrong time.

Two, I like how the Joker runs. Joaquin Phoenix runs in a peculiar way in the movie, and I’m pretty sure he runs as if he’s wearing clown shoes (even when he’s not). It’s a brilliant little touch.

Last, is this the best rendition of the Joker? For me the big two are Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix (though for his time, Jack Nicholson does a great job as well). I think Phoenix gives Ledger a run for his money–he is fascinating to watch, and I never doubted for a second that he’s the Joker. But there’s something special about Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, and I don’t know if it can ever be topped.

What do you think? What was your favorite aspect of Joker, and which actor has done the best job portraying him?


4 Responses to “What Did You Think of “Joker”?”

  1. Joseph E. Pilkus III says:

    Jamey,

    So my girlfriend and I saw Joker in the theater when it first played, and we both left thinking the same thing…”Wow, what a disturbingly great performance.” This one if not for the faint of heart…this is not your comic book (read: childlike innocence) or 1960s TV (read: campy) version of Joker. This one is dark…very dark, and you will travel with Phoenix as he spirals out of control. we both thought it was a brilliant performance and honestly some of the best acting we’ve seen in a very long time.

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    For us, the best part was the realization that none of what has happened in the first two-thirds of the movie actually happened to him…thus, everything moving forward, may also, in fact, be on conjurations in his mind…brilliant!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Wait, nothing that happened in the first two thirds of the movie was real?! I thought it was just his friendship with the neighbor that was fake, but maybe a lot more was too?

      • Kyle Mueller says:

        ***Spoiler comment***

        I wouldn’t say nothing was true, but it definitely established that he was an unreliable narrator, and there were other things that are suspect. For example, we don’t know whether or not Glen Fleshler’s character really gave him the gun (he probably didn’t). When Phoenix goes into the clown lockeroom for the last time, Glen Fleshler seems surprised and outraged and demands to know why Phoenix told police that he gave him a gun in a manner that suggests that this was a surprise to him, rather than just a “why did you tell anyone” moment.

        I didn’t catch that in the theater, but I was spending some time with friends a couple weeks before the lockdown and we re-watched it, and there were a lot of little hints, once you knew that not everything was real. It was brilliantly done.

  2. Joe PIlkus says:

    That’s just it…we don’t know. Especially, the penultimate scene with him on the police car with the entire city in chaos. Did that really happen? Did he really shoot DeNiro’s character? Was Gotham thrown into bedlam?

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