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Stop What You are Doing and Go See "Joker"

"Joker" came out late September of 2019, just in time for Halloween and all the thrills and excitement that come with it. I saw it in theaters a week after its release, and it quickly became obvious to me that this was a 5-star film that was going to dominate the box office. Joker is a psychological thriller that is riddled with darkness and deep messages. Joker seems to be perfectly oriented for Halloween time, featuring creepy clowns, some disturbing scenes, and an overall dark and spooky tone. This film was a joint effort of Warner Bros. Pictures and DC films.

"Joker" takes place in fictional Gotham City but is filmed primarily in the Bronx of New York City. The setting is in 1981 and it is about how a regular man becomes the infamous Joker. Arthur Fleck is a meek man who dresses up as a clown to entertain children for a living. His life seems to be riddled with trouble and grief, and this is portrayed in the setting that was typical of the South Bronx in 1981— fires in garbage cans, graffiti smothering all the walls, filth and litter caked the streets, and the constant blaring of sirens. Arthur is constantly ridiculed by people and made fun of by others. He is a misunderstood, sad man who always angers people by his condition (he laughs randomly and inappropriately). Over the course of the movie, we understand more about the sad life of Arthur and how all his troubles progressively boil over, and this is when he sets himself free in the form of the Joker and wreaks havoc on Gotham City.

"Joker" stars Joaquin Phoenix and he is the primary focus of the movie, however, many other actors also have vital roles, such as Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond, Arthur’s neighbor and imaginary girlfriend; Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, a television host whose show deeply inspired Arthur; Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne, Arthur’s enemy; and Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Arthur’s mother. All the actors and actresses played their roles phenomenally well, but it was Joaquin Phoenix who took the film by storm. 

Personally, what I enjoyed about the film was the role performed by Phoenix, the deep meaning of the movie, and the excitement of the film that can captivate viewers. I found Phoenix’s acting and dedication to the role and how he portrayed his character a true inspiration to the world of art and film. Phoenix captures every moment of the film brilliantly well, as he transforms himself from Arthur Fleck at the beginning of the movie to Joker at the end. He manages to not let an ounce of his personality slip through the cracks throughout the film and simply embodies the character. Another factor that makes the film worth seeing is the setting. The movie is set in a run-down, poor, filthy neighborhood, and this element further emphasized the dystopian nature of not only the city, but Arthur’s life and mind. 

The re-occurring theme throughout the film relates to depression and mental health. The film is peppered with contradictions, including Arthur's journal which he shows to his social worker; it is filled with disturbing quotes that relate to misery, depression, and even allusions to suicide. It is obvious that Arthur lives in a dysphoric world, yet, he has a medical condition that makes him laugh all the time, his job and his passion are to make people laugh, his mother refers to him as “happy," and there are signs plastered in random locations about the importance of smiling. As Arthur says, “I haven't been happy one minute of my entire f***ing life," or “The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don't." The theme being portrayed in the film is that mental illness and metal health need to be taken seriously and that you never truly know what someone may be hiding under a social mask.

I would recommend this film to people who feel as if they don’t have a place in society, or people who must live with depression and sadness and are expected to cover it up. This film was rated R by the MPAA.

A+ Film- A Must See

Zoë Westlund is an 11th grader at White Plains High School. She is a track and field and cross-country athlete who is very passionate about running and her teammates. She has always been interested in the arts and literature, and lately has focused her writing on poetry and news journals.  She is a student in Ms. LoScalzo's journalism class.

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