The movie prompted questions about the treatment of, and attitudes to, people suffering from mental health problems in modern society.
For everyone who has lost faith in the modern art of cinema and yearns for both a visual and dramatic experience, ‘Joker’ is a must-see —not only as an entertaining story from DC comics but also as an eye-opening film on modern society.
The movie is not simply about the Joker, the symbol of chaos and madness of Gotham City. Rather, it is a surprisingly tragic drama about the background of the Joker, whose real name is Arthur Fleck.
Fleck is an aspiring stand-up comedian who suffers from a rare condition where laughter occurs uncontrollably in situations of stress or discomfort. The movie highlights the clash between Fleck—in a state of mental complexity—and a community that shows neither mercy nor empathy for him, and the Joker’s verbal or physical violence that often manifests as a result of this clash.
As Fleck laments in the movie: “The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t [have one].”
The film’s director Todd Philips, who is primarily known for the hilarious saga ‘The Hangover,’ has managed to switch his comedy skills into a dark movie and a deep study of human behavior that will inspire us to reconsider the nature of every villain and the real motives behind their acts, and to question our responsibility, as insecure individuals, towards those people that we consider to be different or misshapen.
This film challenges us, in the most clever and artistic ways, to admit—through black comedy situations where the majority of the audience in the room actually laughed—that we are all guilty.
In a nutshell, this film illustrates the fall of a dreaming, innocent Arthur, and the rise of a ruthless, broken man though a series of ups and downs that shaped the Joker as we know him, developed through very unique cinematography that no critic could deny.
Reactions to the film
Joker has so far grossed a worldwide total of $1,063 billion, making it the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2019 and the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. This great appreciation among DC fanatics and cinephiles was balanced, on the other hand, by some harsh critics.
Time Magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek, for one, argued that “Phillips tried to give us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture” in a review titled “The Problem With Joker Isn’t Its Brutal Violence. It’s the Muddled Message It Sends About Our Times.”
Others saw the film as a jumping-off point to give serious attention to widespread mental health issues.
For his part, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore called ’Joker’ a “cinematic masterpiece” and argued that a lack of viewership, in fact, poses a “danger to society.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, pop culture professor Kendall Philips stated that ”all this talk about potential world violence around this film is distracting from the opportunity to use this film to start a dialogue about such issues as alienation and toxic masculinity.”
Joaquin Phoenix, given his infamous past of depression and alcohol abuse, did not struggle to understand the depths of sadness that marked the character he played during the film. And, beyond the critiques about the purpose or the message of the film, no one has denied yet the terrific performance and unique interpretation of a psychotic loner that Phoenix delivered, giving us a performance worthy of an Academy Award nomination, one that he will likely win, given that no greater accolades have been poured onto any 2019 performance yet.