Joker, Joker, Damn. A Devil
The last musical I sat through was far better, though Xanadu was possessed of a more ambiguous ending, brilliantly presaging that darling trope of the indie set. Here, extended dance sequences and backlit hero framings, excessive solo cello and muted color pallets can’t define an origin story that is incapable of getting out of its own way. And, the movie ends at what should be minute twenty of the inevitable sequel—a new approach to pre-marketing?
Why the psychosis, the sociopathic trajectory? Is it the untreated mental illness? The abuse we later find out about? The head injury we find out about subsequent to that? Does one cause the other? Both? A combination thereof? Do all of these things a Joker make?
Phoenix’s acting is adequate, making more of the writing than is there (and though I’m surely not the first to notice this, it would seem that at first sight of his appearance on the DeNiro show that he’s turned himself into Bill Hader). The photography isn’t frenetic enough. The lighting makes you sad. Or sleepy (one of my nephews snored through a central seventy minutes or so). The tension that never gets resolved adequately reflects the unfulfilled anticipation that heads into the trash with your almost-empty popcorn bucket, the build-up for this film overwrought for a final product we knew but didn’t want to believe would be disappointing. Anticipation’s half the magic of Hollywood. The other half we go to the movies for doesn’t live in this weak offering. But rest assured, with the next two in the sequence, it will. Or so they’d have you tell yourself. Don’t stop believin’. 🎥