By Amay Singh
“Joker,” directed by Todd Philipps, is the origin story of one of the most loved, confusing and iconic villains of the DC universe.
Over the course of the filmography of “Joker,” we’ve seen the highly rated villain be played by numerous actors and voice-actors who have added their own personalized touches to the character — be it Cesar Romero’s playful prankster, Jack Nicholson’s iconic voice or Heath Ledger’s dark sadism.
Ledger’s characterization of the Joker in “The Dark Knight” set a benchmark, which garners a lot of expectations from the future Joker. After the forgettable performance of Jared Leto as the Joker in “Suicide Squad,” Joaquin Phoenix brings the Joker to life again in a terrifying, haunting and unsettling performance.
Set in the ‘80s with a raging class war, it almost harks back to the French Revolution. “Joker” is mostly centered around Phoenix. For movie-goers Aamir Ahamad and Timothy Lansing who have watched every prior rendition of the Joker, ranging from the beloved voice-acting of Mark Hamill to the highly disdained portrayal by Jared Leto, the ‘haunting’ and ‘astonishing’ acting is what sold the movie.
“His eyes haunt you. They show his struggle with his inner demons,” Lansing said. However, it’s not all dark; the movie does also share some chuckle-worthy moments amidst its chaotic plot.
Another iconic aspect of the Joker is his laugh. A demented laugh that is meant to creep the audience out.
“Phoenix’s joker has a variety of laughs, all of them are anything but funny. Ranging from the high-pitched cackle to the guffaw that often covered up tears, all of them signify one thing — how dead he feels on the inside. There is no joy in his life,” Ahamad said.
“Joker” is a deeply unsettling social commentary on a ravaging class divide, as well as a warning sign for mental illness. It is not for everyone, but it will definitely bring about a lot of conversation.
“It does feel slightly unnerving and very scary, but it is a really good movie,” Lansing said.
“Joker” earned three-out-of-five stars from Ahamad and four-out-of-five stars from Lansing.