Joker – TIFF 2019 Review

In recent years, with the evolution of contemporary cinema, numerous controversies have risen and fallen throughout different timelines of film history. In 2019, our most barbaric form of battling discourse is surprisingly with Todd Phillip’s Joker, a film that is steaming up more traction than it ever has the right to contain. People are equally pissed, floored, and skeptical on the film; a motion picture event that has critics scratching their heads, and fanboys eagerly anticipating the acts of cruel violence from the titular iconic villain. What is most ironic about the whole conversation behind this film, with death threats being sent out to numerous innocent writers and commentators, is that Joker (2019) is essentially a critique on today’s moral spectrum. What’s surprisingly clear from the very inception of the project, is that barely anything in the film is overly-glorified in terms of the Joker’s actions and eventual consequences. The film’s influence may be dangerous, but the audience behind it is arguably the most savage out of them all. 

As for myself, I found the film quite decent. As many people have already raised a few eyebrows on the incel POV, let it be known that this perspective specifically serves a purpose towards it’s message on gun control and poor government funded mental health institutions. Phillip’s makes sure that the audience is aware of Arthur’s dark and traumatized past, a long record of domestic abuse all being key outliers that quite obviously affects his emotions and psychological control. It’s largely a cautionary tale about the bi-products of modern capitalist regimes and the American dream; and the great lengths a susceptible person can go, just to feel validated in this modern world.  It’s a blunt and obvious message, with barely any subtly.

Unfortunately, this may not be the case for some less enlightened viewers, who will most likely take the film’s message wrongly, similar to how numerous frat boys interpreted Fight Club’s message of toxic masculinity in a false, ignorant light. Outside of it’s toxic fan-base however, on its own, Joker is a decent tale of psychosomatic dread. Joaquin delivers with an unhinged performance that will raid your nightmares, alongside a supporting cast that tastefully complements the narrative’s bleak plot progression. It’s predictable in story-nature, yet Arthur Fleck’s character arc and unreliable perspective feels oddly refreshing, especially in a day and age of constant rallying and public acts of terror. 

It’s clear that Phillips and Co. have demonstrated a certain amount of determination into delivering a passion project that successfully captures the chaotic horrifying nature of it’s fictional universe. Shame that the constant bickering backlash, and oblivious contentious support from DC Fans, feels exhausting and frankly overwhelming. If everybody just calmed down for at least five minutes, and took a small breather, than we can finally fully appreciate both the successes and wrongdoings of Phillips’ latest work. Right now though, it’s a minefield of thwarts and insults, that will never get us anywhere. We truly do live in a society. 

Joker screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Warner Bros will release the film nationwide on October 4th, 2019.

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