Despite the slow pacing of the movie, Joker is lifted up by a compelling lead performance by Joaquin Phoenix and great sound design.
Joker is one of the few movies that has succeeded in nearly every single aspect. Every character, music selection, and scene of the movie was there to build upon the other to tell us the story of Arthur Fleck.
Joaquin Phoenix’s star role is enough to carry the movie in its entirety. During the beginning mirror scene, Joaquin is able to use nothing but facial expressions and actions to convey his character’s sadness. Using his fingers to force a smile, he tries to convince himself of his own happiness.
Despite the gruesome and bloodthirsty nature of Arthur Fleck, Joker’s script allows the tone of every scene to thrive. Arthur’s insanity combined with his comedic nature makes for many great interactions throughout the movie. For example, in an interaction with Sophie Dumond, a bank worker that lives in Arthur’s apartment complex, he says “I have a gun if you want me to come by tomorrow.” This scene is very creepy but is made out to be a funny moment due to the awkwardness of the interaction.
Joker’s musical selection also helps to establish the distinctive tone of this movie. The music is a Sinatra-style of music, for example, That’s Life by Frank Sinatra gives a weirdly creepy vibe to the end of the movie. This style of music, paired with the juxtaposing crescendos and sudden moments of silence placed perfectly throughout the movie, gives the movie the last touch it needed.
In the end, Joaquin Phoenix carries a lot of the movie on his back. This along with the phenomenal sound design makes you sit on the edge of your seat throughout the movie, always building towards the climax.
Overall Joker earns an 8.5/10. Although there are great musical selections and actor performances, the gruesome scenes throughout the movie tend to overdo it, often coming off as over-aggressive. This along with the slow pacing of the movie brings the overall rating down.