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Yasmeen Mamdouh
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Joker: Lasting Shadow of Darkness‎

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It’s rare when a movie communicates with its audiences on a deeper level, leaving them with a particular mood or mindset when it’s finished. Joker is not perfect, and some might even question its depth, but its darkness will haunt you long after the final credits roll.

The origin story of one of the most beloved villains, Joker follows bullied outcast of society, Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix), who, currently a clown for hire, is an aspiring comedian. Arthur lives with his mother, Penny, in the merciless Gotham City, and, after multiple bullying incidents, Arthur is driven to madness, and finally becomes The Joker.

Joker is not necessarily about the events that take place in its plot, but rather about the consequences of these events and how they led to the creation of the Joker as audiences have known him. That can be spotted through the minimal focus on the details of Arthur’s mental illness; the condition behind his uncontrollable laughter and being admitted to a mental institution, before finally revealing his history with abuse. The film focuses more on the consequences of living in a crushing society, especially when mental illness is part of the equation.

The film’s most powerful tool is the mood; the script, the visual language, and the acting all work together to create a glum mood that will stay with audiences even after the film is long finished.

It is noticeable that the film’s second half is not only where the “action” really takes place, but also where the plot becomes truly cohesive and much more structured. The first half, on the other hand, seems much more jumbled; like random puzzle pieces being tossed at the audience one after the other with the film seemingly going nowhere.

Joker’s cinematography is beautiful; the colour palettes are diverse and meticulous, with the lighting artistically deviating from the standard. The choice of music is also a plus, along with the camera angles and shots. These elements together, as well as the acting, are what gives the film its strongest tool; the inescapable glum mood.

For the acting, Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely phenomenal from start to finish with no slip-ups or dips in his performance. Phoenix did not only lose weight and add makeup, but he also transformed himself with different body posture; a different way to walk, a different way to run, the way he carried himself, and how he gazed or laughed. The laugh was a strong motif in the film, and Phoenix nailed it to the point that that laugh will now be very distinguishable; disturbingly iconic.

Phoenix’s award-deserving performance makes up for the movie’s structural issues in the first half, making Joker very well worth the dark experience of watching it.


Like This? Try

Taxi Driver (1976), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

360 Tip

Joaquin Phoenix based his laugh on "videos of people suffering from pathological laughter." He also sought to portray a character with which audiences could not identify with him.

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