Film Review: The Joker

 

This past friday the Joker movie came out in theaters so naturally my inner dork was able to convince some of my friends to come watch it with me. Although I had been skeptical about the film due to the change in casting for the leading man and the not so promising trailer the reviews that had been released thus far claimed that the film was a must watch. There were various warnings before the film began about the portrayal of abuse and violence that were not intended to be seen by all audiences and I had previously read that Joaquin Phoenix, the actor playing the Joker, had lost 52 pounds for the role. As soon as the film began I could tell this was not about to be a feel good movie as humor that was presented soon turned dark and somehow would make you feel bad for even laughing in the first place.

This film such as many other origin stories before in narrating us through what was it that made Arthur Fleck snap enough to become the Joker. The interesting thing about the turning point for this character is that Mr. Fleck was abused repeatedly but also consistently throughout the whole film yet what finally made him switch over to his alter ego was the cutdown of personnel and medical help from the government. Arthur Fleck is constantly diminished and abused by his mother, boss, co-workers, neighborhood kids, his audience at the stand up comedy hour and just about anyone he comes into contact with. Arthur does weekly therapy sessions with a social worker and has his daily medication covered by the state but when funding is cut back he comes to the conclusion that without this help he can finally be his “true self”. 

This is when the alter ego of the Joker is created as the character becomes more and more mentally unstable. The film explains the Joker’s uncontrollable laughter as a condition that stems from cerebral damage due extensive abuse and neglect as a child. Through this the film touches on how mental illnesses are seen by some as constructed by those that suffer from them and are misunderstood. Although there are many mixed reviews on the film due to how controversial some scenes are I do recommend everyone to watch the film and formulate their own opinion.