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Director Todd Phillips is popular in the cinematic world. Phillips has directed several hit films such as “Project X”, “The Hangover” trilogy, and more recently, “A Star is Born”. “Joker” is a bit out of Todd Phillips’ genre range, who previously focused on comedic films and is now shifting to a thriller. Grammy award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix is Arthur Fleck in “Joker”, the role diverging greatly from his past parts in “Walk the Line”, “Brother Bear” and “Gladiator.”

In the movie, Arthur works in entertainment as a clown in order to support himself and his mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy). We learn that Fleck faces a neurological disorder that causes him to hysterically laugh in confrontational situations, and this condition eventually leads to havoc in Gotham. Phoenix does a phenomenal job when he portrays Arthur. He created his own version of the Joker’s trademark hysterical laugh, which is both boastful and discomforting. His performance was intimating, creative, and memorable to the audience. 

Another well-known actress in the film is Frances Conroy who is cast as Penny Fleck. Conroy is also known to perform in a wide array of films such as “Six Feet Under”, “Catwoman” and is featured in the series “American Horror Story.” Conroy is known for her appearance, namely her piercing pale blue eyes that help her portray her dark characters. Conroy does an outstanding performance as she portrays a weak, motherly figure who is dependent on her son. Conroy’s pale blue eyes give her a perplexing, eerie feeling when she stares into the camera. As she stares at the camera, her soft voice is a phenomenal effect to portray Penny’s confusion. 

Her role is best portrayed at the beginning of the film when Arthur brings Penny dinner in bed. Conroy lays in bed waiting for Phoenix to come watch “The Murray Franklin Show”. As Phoenix makes his way to her, Conroy’s character comments on his need to take care of his well-being.   

The “Joker” is a film filled with plot twists that keep you on your feet left and right. Just when things couldn’t get worse for the Fleck family, the unimaginable happens. In addition to the twists and turns, there is a perfect mixture of action and psychological thriller that keeps the audiences’ eyes glued to the screen. The level of gore throughout the film, as well as the make-up of the Joker, add to the spooky feel of the autumn season.

Mesmerizing scenes such as the long shot of the Joker walking out of the subway in slow-motion as the police ran past him dwell in the mind. Similarly, slow-motion scenes show havoc on Gotham city to glorify the Joker adding to the psychological morbidity of the film.

Overall, the two-hour film is four stars out of four and highly recommended.

Melissa Herrera

Illinois '20

Love to talk, I'm always here for you.
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