Sunday, September 24, 2023

“Joker” movie review: Does it live up to its own controversy?


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Photo Courtesy of The Verge

Story by Sergio Pacheco/Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: Sidelines ran a story earlier this week about the controversy and threats surrounding “Joker.” You can find that story here

On Friday, October 4, the new Joker movie premiered across the U.S. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck (the man who becomes the Joker), Robert De Niro as Franklin Murray,  Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond, Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck and Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne.

Before the movie was released throughout the country, it premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival where it won the Golden Lion, the festival’s highest prize. Not only was it praised as one 2019’s best movies, but it also stirred up controversy before the movie’s wide release, with threats of gun violence and an online fandom inspired by the Joker, according to an article by The Atlantic.

The movie takes place in Gotham City, New York, where there seems to be a rise in crime. Even from the final trailer Warner Bros. released, Arthur seems like a nice guy trying to bring some light into people’s lives. “All I have are negative thoughts,” says Arthur as he is seen talking to what seems to be his psychologist. That already shows that there’s something mentally wrong with him that’s just waiting to come out at any moment. “For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed, but I do and people are starting to notice,” he says through  scenes of people wearing clown masks at a protest. There are a few scenes where Arthur laughs and instantly you know it’s the Joker’s laugh.

Phoenix really nailed not just the personality of who Arthur was, but also who Arthur becomes, which is the Joker. I believe Phoenix will go down as one of the best actors to play the role of the Joker next to Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989) and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008).

This movie is by no means a superhero movie and mimics real life in so many ways. It’s the first film that really explains the Joker’s background. Past films like The Dark Knight just present the Joker out of nowhere, with the only semblance of an explanation for his motives or past coming from him describing how he got the scars on his face. The 2019 Joker movie really fits the era that we live in, how cruel society can be and also how it can completely change a person’s view on the world. It touches on topics such as mental illness and, in a way, politics. Since there are little to no special effects, every scene feels so real that anyone can get lost in the film and think it was based on a true story. The movie is definitely a must see and quite possibly one of the best films of 2019.


To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email

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