THIS WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. READ WITH CAUTION.
I have just seen the movie Joker and it is a movie that I think a lot of people have a lot of divisive views around. In short, this is a film that will make you think. In my opinion, that’s what a great movie should do.
Firstly, the plot. Arthur Fleck, a man who has all but fallen apart, lives an in poverty with his mother, trying to make it as a comedian. Throughout act one, Fleck’s delusions of grandeur and warped sense of reality, coupled with a naive and trusting nature, see him constantly hurt. His mother, who also has mental health issues, does not help matters. All this, coupled with the loss of his job, and humiliation on television, sees him become Joker. Not The Joker, but a Joker.
The world that Arthur lives in, is chaotic, uncaring, and burdened with austerity and economic hardship. It’s a culture that creates resentment. Thomas Wayne, a supporting character who Arthur believes is his father, tries to help. However, he is shown as an uncaring politician, who fumbles his words and feeds the resentment. ‘clowns that hide behind a mask’ become the symbol of that resentment, as Arthur (who murders three of Wayne’s employees) is hailed as a hero, of sorts. And we see the resentment boil over, in a thrilling climax of violence, revenge, and the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Witnessed by Bruce Wayne.
Joaquin Pheonix portrays Joker as someone who fell through the cracks. He’s on medication, he goes to state-funded therapy and was in Arkham Hospital. He has no friends and no social life. Any social life he has turned out to be his delusion. His colleagues at work fear him. Fleck turns his resentment into violent outbursts, and kills several people who have wronged him or others, making him a twisted social justice vigilante.
Joker and Society
I have seen a lot of hit pieces on this film so far. Firstly, criticising the use of violence, and then, threats of actual violence outside screenings. There has been plenty of controversies and moral panic over a film that is hard to watch for you or me. The violence is going to be a turn off for some, and people who go on about incels are going to use this as an excuse to peddle their beliefs and use it as an example for violence.
You need to look at our world and Fleck’s world. Austerity, cut social services, and a poor perception of mental health where anyone can fall through the cracks. Pheonix’s character would be locked in a hospital for good in a rational society. But, there is scant regard for people in Joker. No one cares or wants to care.
People are mad at this film because it criticises all of us. It attacks our modern-day society by showing how little we have changed since yesterday. I am not advocating for violence and riots, but rational thought on this film. A thoughtful film.
My Final Thoughts
When we left the cinema, my Dad, brother, and I were unanimous about this movie. It was brilliant. It was a raw take on today’s society, through the spectacles of late ’70s/early 80’s austerity. This was not a comic book movie, at all. Will that disappoint some? No, it shouldn’t. If it did, shame on you. I believe if you haven’t seen it, then you most certainly should.
Joker hurts to watch. You won’t smile through it, but you will shake. It will make you uneasy, with confusion, slow-burning character moments, and brief sparks of unadulterated violence that is as brutal, as it is gripping to watch. It will make you smile, shake, and feel very uncomfortable. Joker is a wonderful movie.