<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>


Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Robert De Niro

Running time: 2 hours


For all the rave reviews (not as many as you’re led to believe), Joker is just extremely violent and depraved to get your attention in a world that is already disgusting. We need happy movies, not depressing ones!

Sure, you can give him an award, but for my money, Heath Ledger’s Joker was far better than Joaquin Phoenix who has lost weight for the role, but I have no idea why. Maybe it was to win an award because it does nothing for the story.


And are we going to be subjected to origin stories – twisted and transformed for the sake of awards or more money – for the rest of our lives? Can’t they move forward instead of backwards? If I have to watch one more Spider-Man or Joker or Batman origin story again I’m gonna hurl!

Also, I think it’s just cool right now for everyone to talk about Joker and ‘his’ performance. He’s a great actor, no doubt. Is this his best performance? Certainly not. Is this his most disturbing? Yes, probably.


Mental illness is the topic for this Joker. It always is, but he’s not thrown into a vat of acid that contorts his face to a ‘not so serious’ one. It’s a troubled childhood, a mental disability, poverty, a dystopian environment and a lack of serious counselling that turns him into a maniacal killer. Of course, one could argue that some of these things could have spurred him on to be a better person, maybe turn into a hero that Gotham needs to save it from itself. Alas, the movie paints a picture of mental illness being the cause of homicide just as many gun lobbyists would want you to believe that it’s mental illness and not guns that kills people.

There’s no Batman in this movie. There’s no joy in this depressing and ‘dark’ film. We see enough maniacs and psycho killers in the programmes we watch on Netflix and in the news. What Joker never explains is why these events, which almost all the people of Gotham are going through, affect him so extremely and drastically to create the super villain of the DC universe. Of course, violence isn’t that hard nowadays considering everyone’s tempers are frayed and so we can empathise with him whipping out a gun and shooting people who behave like assholes. So there’s nothing extraordinary about his transformation either. Especially considering the background of a violent city.


And if it is the hope of the filmmakers for us to sympathise with him at any point, then they are sending the wrong message. That it is okay to kill and destroy because you have had a traumatic childhood or your circumstances are dire, this is not something we want to tell a world that is already on the brink of self-annihilation. Joker is a film with no redeeming virtue, no spark of joy, no glimmer of hope, no entertainment value, no hero at all. It’s sad that Warner Bros. and DC feel that this is what they have to resort to in order to take on Marvel and the Avengers. I’m all for serious cinema, but not cinema that devours your hope and vomits it up to depress the shit out of you.

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