It must also be mentioned that the score by Hildur Guðnadóttir is essential in bringing forth the myriad of disturbing emotions reflected by Arthur Fleck/Joker. The violin that accompanies the Joker’s bathroom dance scene is poignant, menacing and haunting. I do hope the musical score will be recognized along with Phoenix’s performance come awards season.
“Phoenix used every arsenal an actor can to reveal Arthur Fleck’s transformation into Joker…”
Now, full disclosure, I actually knew Todd Phillips back in the 90s when he was doing the New York Underground Film Festival. And Film Threat actually released two volumes of shorts from NYUFF as well as Phillips’ first feature, a documentary called Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies. While Phillips is mostly known for his comedies like Old School, Road Trip, The Hangover trilogy and Due Date (which had varying levels of success), I believe that his filmmaking heart is still rooted in the grittiness of his earlier work, which clearly has reached the pinnacle in Joker. Frankly, I hope the success of Joker allows Phillips to further venture into risky films like the ones he made at the beginning of his career rather than, say, The Hangover 4.
Joker is truly a masterpiece. And it shows what is possible if one approaches a comic book movie on a low budget, free from the pressures that come with a bloated big budget requiring huge box office returns and everyone to love it. You don’t have to love Joker. You can hate it. It’s fine. You don’t even have to go see it. But I’m not the only one calling Joker a masterpiece. This sentiment has been echoed in reviews posted by both fans and critics. The true test of a masterpiece is time. So in a decade when we discuss the greatest comic book movies ever made, will we be talking about Joker or Avengers: Endgame? Time will tell.
"…the most radical film to come from a major studio since Fight Club."