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‘Joker’ Review

★★★★½

Chilling, riveting and shocking, ‘Joker’ reinvents the classic villain’s story with a nuanced and complex message and a stunning performance by Joaquin Phoenix. 

Arthur Fleck, a man seemingly forgotten by society and rejected by most who know him, faces tough decisions as his mental health and outer world come crashing down. 

After much controversy, speculation and doubt that Todd Philips, a director mostly known for raunchy comedies, could deliver a compellingly dark and sophisticated film, he not only succeeded in my opinion, but actually managed to top the high expectations and bring an important message to light that resonates with today’s society perhaps more than any other film this year. Philips directs the film with a steady hand, showing you just enough to maintain you gripped throughout the running time. You can sense the maturity in his work and his evolution from past works to this one, and it’s really appreciated. 

There can be no conversation about this movie without a mention about Joaquin Phoenix, and for good reason: he does the best performance of his entire career. Complex and multi-layered, Phoenix brings an unexpected heartbreaking side to the character and never seems to not enjoy it. Pair that with some stellar lines of dialogue from Philips and Scott Silver, and you get many instantly classic scenes that are sure to be as memorable as even something like ‘The Dark Knight’. It’s a chilling performance that is unquestionably the film’s strongest asset and its strongest bet come awards season.

And yet, beyond the artistry at display and the talent involved in front of the camera, the film has a poignant lesson behind it that leaves you with enough goosebumps to leave you thinking about where we find ourselves today in our social and political climate. It’s a powerful display of a man rejected by society and left with no choice but to break and become the villain everyone has painted him as, and it’s a beautiful and tragic as it sounds. The way Philips manages to flip the tables and show beloved characters like the Waynes in a completely new light speaks volumes about his skill as a storyteller. 

In conclusion, Todd Philips crafts a perfectly nightmarish vision of Gotham City and its titular villain, becoming an intense and gripping ride that is sure to be the talk of many people thanks to its incredibly portrayed subject matter and critique of modern society. It can’t be missed.

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