THE PEOPLE'S JOKER (2023)
Release Date: [Nightmares Film Festival 2023]
Studio: Mazra TV.
"An aspiring clown grappling with her gender identity combats a fascistic caped crusader."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
The People’s Joker is a no holds barred surrealistic acid trip within a familiar world of Batman, but through an ever-evolving creative lens. I went into this film ‘blind’, aside from the controversy of the film being pulled from TIFF over ‘rights issues.’ Despite the last minute TIFF withdrawal, it managed to screen at the Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, OH which I attended.
The film tells the story of a trans aspiring comedian (Vera Drew as Joker the Harlequin) on a journey of self discovery and pursuing her dreams of being a successful comedian.
The film’s aesthetic style is a blend of several different designs including cartoon animation, stop motion, video game graphics, CGI backdrops, live action. The visuals were a lot to take in, but I enjoyed the vibrant colors and creative landscapes the movie created in its unique ‘parody’ world of Batman.
The writing is effectively comedic with sharp wit and unapologetic, fearless humor that doesn’t pull any punches. Highlights of the cast comedically include writer, director and star Vera Drew, Nathan Faustino as The Penguin and Tim Heidecker voicing a far-right cartoon talking head. Faustino and Drew play well off of each other as an unlikely comedy duo who quickly become friends and supporters of each others’ comedy aspirations.
Aside from the film’s impressive comedic chops, there are some noteworthy performances on the dramatic side from Lynn Downey as Joker’s mother and Griffin Kramer as young Joker. The tension between these characters is tangible and the struggle with acceptance of a mother coming to terms with her trans child is on full display in their shared scenes. Kane Distler plays ‘Mr. J’ who quickly becomes Joker’s love interest after she moves to Gotham City from the Midwest and guides her as a fellow trans person adjusting to her new life in the city. The chemistry between Distler and Drew is palpable and touching as they quickly bond through shared experiences.
The People’s Joker is a funny, creative movie that gives a voice to a community that is often neglected in mainstream cinema. Filmmaker Vera Drew delivers with a gutsy & brash parody of the Batman Universe that manages to be a comedy with a heartfelt message.