Watching Joker is no joke, it's definitely not for the faint-hearted, not because it is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, but because it is a roller coaster ride of emotions that slowly descends into criminal madness. Dark and disturbing. Joaquin Phoenix's take on one of the most famous villains of all time is nothing short of heroism. He, in detail, told exactly what we wanted to know -- the origin of the Joker -- and Phoenix's performance in the film was the greatest depiction of Joker since Heath Ledger.
Phoenix’s intensity and his comedy -- that unforgettable laugh —- the one that triggers due to a neurological condition, define his exceptional talent as an actor. How he transforms himself into an unstable, raging loner who commits inhumane acts of violence in pursuit of a stand-up comedy opportunity. His vulnerability is on full public display where his joke is not laughed at. And only a half cackling, half sheepish grin comes out.
Directed by Todd Phillips (of Hangover, Roadtrip fame), who was an unlikely choice of a director for a superhero film, was faced with the huge task of giving a hand-made feel to the film, depicting a man who wrestles with comedy-tragedy -- that is his life, to turn Arthur Fleck into the Clown of Crime.
Observing Joaquin's penchant for dark realism, it does not take a lot of digging to understand that much of it comes from his personal history. The death of his famous brother, River, in front of the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard, in 1993, which Joaquin witnessed, was deeply disturbing and damaging. River Phoenix was a star and a big influence on Joaquin. Saying yes to Joker was also not easy for him. He, in an interview, had said that he showed the script to his mother and sister before giving a nod to the character.
Phoenix's win at the Golden Globes for Best Actor in a drama motion picture is just a validation of sorts, a performance we always knew was worthy of an Oscar. I watched the film in awe of the character and it was difficult to understand how Phoenix, who is not known to be a method actor, unlike Ledger, gave off that unsettling vibe that gradually ramped up into insanity. The vibe stays, long after the movie ends.