Sakamoto Reviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
All it takes is one bad day.
Joker is Todd Philips first attempt at making a character driven drama and he pulled it off spectacularly. This movie is about a mentally ill man who gets beat down by society and becomes the Joker.
Joker takes the best of Taxi Driver and the best of The King of Comedy and combines them with the mystery behind the Jokers origin. Joker isn’t as much a comic book movie as it is a character piece about a man whom the average person would judge at first glance and consider the villain breaking bad as one might say.
Much like the character it’s based on I don’t think the movie is really trying to say anything about society, politics or people other than anybody can change, nobody is morally straight and we need to start treating each other better. The movie throws you in this confusing and tense situation between the citizens of Gotham and the police, the garbage issues plaguing the city, it shows you minor things like the differences in trains or the difference in bathrooms but it’s entirely interpretational and adds nothing to the story but everything to the world building. Gotham feels like a character and that's important for Arthurs character.
Joaquin Phoenix is a complete powerhouse in this movie. He’s probably the only note worthy actor in this movie aside from his mom starred by Frances Conroy or Robert De Niro playing Murray Franklin who both deliver strong performances even if their shine is always out shun by Joaquins. Everything from the small ticks he has when he's nervous to his emaciated look is on point.
While great the film isn't perfect. There are a few moments of contrivance and there are also some moments where something happens and I have to guess that what just happened that was weird was from Arthurs perspective since this is an unreliable narrator situation but there's not enough small things to make me feel like something was off earlier. Just something I notice every time I watch but it doesn't affect the story drastically in any way so I'm honestly fine with it.
Joker manages to take a comic book character and bring them down to this kind of level of realism and nihilism. The movie challenges us to perceive who the villain and who the hero rather than make a stand on any kind of moral ground, it's just here are these people in this situation, interpret it how you will and I absolutely love that as oppose to the film trying to tell me how I should feel.