Joker is the latest movie from DC properties, but just to make things clear: This is not a superhero movie. It’s nothing close to it. It is a standalone psychological drama that takes a hard look at dangerous mental illness, that just so happens to be in a universe where Batman will eventually exist. It’s a movie that has been surrounded by controversy, but I don’t think it could achieve its goals without being controversial. To be completely clear, I did not “enjoy” this movie. I don’t think enjoyment is what the filmmakers had in mind for this one.

Joaquin Phoenix carries the movie on his shoulders with his portrayal of Arthur Fleck, the man who eventually becomes The Joker. The character in this movie is not The Joker that we are used to, he is one rooted in reality with deep mental disturbance. He is not calculated. He is not the clown prince of crime, he is a very sick man that becomes violent due to his mental issues and the way he perceives society. He is terrifying, because people like him exist everywhere. In a world where people like him are common in headlines, Joker is a mirror held up to the violence in our own society.

I wouldn’t recommend Joker to everyone. I wouldn’t recommend Joker to most people I personally know. It’s visceral, it’s disturbing, it’s violent, and it’s real. For someone who can take those feelings and appreciate them for what they are, this movie knocks it out of the park. Being taken for a ride with a character that becomes a violent killer is uncomfortable, but incredibly effective. Understanding this type of person is a good thing, but only if you can stomach it. For this one, just make sure you’re ok with what you’re going to see, and what you’re going to understand.

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