This Gotham is a place of grimy despair, extreme disparity of wealth and bitter disagreement, on the verge of collapse. While this realistic representation makes a typically fantastic place seem familiar, it is not just the recognizable environment that gives Joker his hyperrealism; It is what is allegorically treated that makes the film so credible, timely and worthy of speaking long after the credits arrive. Joker is a period piece, but without a doubt it is our own problematic and relentlessly violent time.
Each villain gets his own movie or TV show
The Joker scenario (approximately 1981) not only allows the film to be a comic version of the clbadic Martin Scorsese or Sidney Lumet films, but also eliminates the technology that today would help catch a madman as soon as more early. This is a time when people smoked everywhere (including hospitals), security cameras and metal detectors were not ubiquitous, and no one was wearing seat belts while driving. The times were bad but they could get worse. Joker, the character, acts as the symbolic couple of that dynamite he expects.
Disconcertingly played by Joaquin Phoenix, the mentally ill Arthur Fleck is a troubled schlepp who is trapped on the margins of society. Arthur is a man who never had a good rest or a happy day in his life. The less said about how and why Arthur adopts Joker's personality and finds his release and empowerment cheerful, the better, this is a movie meant to be experienced with an open mind and no spoilers, but it is enough to say that this Joker is the end result of a society that is too comfortable with its casual cruelty and lack of empathy. We create the monsters we deserve.
Joker is an accusation of the collective contempt of a society for the welfare of its citizens rather than necessarily criticizing any type of individual or clbad. As much as you sympathize with your plight, Gotham's oppressed can be as insensitive and vicious as the rich and powerful. Arthur is at one time or another emotionally or physically injured by people of all levels, as well as by the institutions they inhabit. If the taxi driver, Travis Bickle, called himself "the lonely man of God," then Arthur Fleck is certainly Gotham's lonely man. Arthur is finally looking for a human connection, something he won't tragically find until he puts on a happy face and violently exposes the city's own hypocrisies and inhumanities.
Joker, the movie, can ask viewers to sympathize with its central protagonist, but does not ask us to forgive him for his increasingly evil choices. As many real-world parallels and inspirations can be uncomfortably drawn from Arthur's descent into violent madness, the film still knows that he is upset and should not be idealized, simply understood.
The many stories of origin of the Joker
The key to that careful calibration is not only the sharp direction and clear vision of Todd Phillips, but also the indelible performance of Joaquin Phoenix. Arthur's uncontrollable laughter seems to hurt him physically; his body is thin and battered, his misery is engraved on his deeply wrinkled face. He looks healthier and more alive, I dare to say that happier, since he transforms into Joker than he does as Arthur. Phoenix captures all these little nuances in Arthur and his interactions with others that reveal a lot about the inner life of this disturbed individual.
The camera work is often claustrophobically narrow in Phoenix, which is in almost every scene, all of which adds to the movie that never makes me feel like I'm in a place other than Arthur's tortured head space. As solid as Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy are in their small roles here, this is the Phoenix movie and offers a tour de force.
Considering that the Joker comic said infamously that he preferred that his origin be a multiple choice, this film wisely encompbades the ambiguity of his main character, even though it is apparently an origin story. The increasingly unstable state of mind of Arthur is reflected in the film as things become progressively more dreamlike, well, a nightmare and violent in the final stretch.
Phillips (along with co-writer Scott Silver) designed a film that demands multiple visualizations; One of Joker's strengths is that anyone can discuss his side about what was real and what he imagined, and no one can say that another's reading is inaccurate. For a film about one of the most unreliable narrators of fiction, we should not expect less.