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There was never any doubt in my mind I'd see this movie. I enjoyed Joaquin Phoenix since I first saw him in Gladiator. Lots of people have played the Joker but only Heath Ledger managed to win an Oscar for it, hopefully this movie will change that.
While this is technically a DC comic book movie, it really doesn't have the feel of one at all. This movie is very gritty and realistic and if it wasn't for the fact that he plays the Joker (and the DC logo does finally show up in the credits) that you could otherwise call it a character study.
The idea here is an excellent one, make an origin Joker movie that stands completely apart from anything else in the DC movie (or TV) universe. The result is an excellent (and deeply disturbing) movie that shows Joaquin at the top of his game.
While Robert De Niro is there (and does a good job) the movie is all about Joaquin. His performance is truly amazing, it's not something I thought I would say but I feel this equals or perhaps (at times) even surpasses the amazing performance of Heath Ledger. The whole film (aside from a few clunky bits) is a masterpiece of cinema.
This is the way movies (for adults mind you) are supposed to be done. Excellent story, superb acting, graphic violence (in the right moments), great directing and a definitive ending. While Joker, Arthur Fleck, is the villain of the movie, you still can't help but feel sympathy for him at times.
The movie makes you think about society, the way people are treated, the divide between the wealthy and poor people, the treatment of those with mental illness, the capacity for human cruelty and ultimately the question of how much abuse could you take before you finally snapped?
One of the only parts I didn't like was the shoehorned insertion of a very famous Batman comic book scene (that's the only hint I'll give). There are other scenes that just made me uncomfortable but maybe they were supposed to do that. There is one other violent scene that I thought went a little too gory but again it was probably meant to shock the viewers. I also think one of the truly wonderful things here is what it makes you think about afterward, how much influence do we really have on the world? What would you do to help someone? What does justice really mean? How shitty does the world have to get before we realize it must change? I don't think I have any answers but its the start of the discussion that is so important.
Overall I really loved this movie and give it a very rare 9 out of 10. I would certainly see this movie again. I give it one of my highest recommendations. While fans of Batman will get a little more out of it, you can certainly just appreciate this movie for what it is with no comic book knowledge. Please don't bring children, ages 17+ for plenty of violence, gore, and foul language. You did it, Joaquin! This movie deserves at least 1 Oscar, if not more.