As I walked into the tightly-packed auditorium to see “The Joker” in 35mm film, I couldn’t help but wonder how exactly a film like this would fare with modern day audiences. Similar to Scorsese greats like “Taxi Driver,” and even reminiscent of fear-inducing Technicolor nightmares like “Suspiria,” it was clear from the start of the marketing campaign that Phillips intended to make a gleefully dark and surprisingly realistic portrayal of a 79-year-old comic book villain.
What I can say is that this is an endlessly interesting psychotic rampage of violence, passion and guilt. From the opening scene to the imprinting of “The End” on the screen as the credits rolled I was completely transfixed in wanting to learn more about how and why they made such a daring film.
It’s also suffice it to say that they have made a movie that will be extremely subversive for parents, educators, law enforcement and government alike. In perhaps the most audacious move made by a major studio in a long time, an instantly recognizable character has been subjected to a study of legitimate mental illness, gun control and America’s never-ending obsession with violence.
And while the message of the film could be easily misconstrued — and while I would not recommend to see the film with a large crowd due to the type of actions that some may find fitting to associate with this film and its characters, it has to be easily the most interesting movie I have seen in a very, very long time. Joaquin Phoenix is a force, and combined with Todd Phillips’ wonderful eye, they have created something special.