Joker- Profound and Disturbing
After an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival, Joker came to cinemas as a movie with emotional power and message. Todd Phillips’ rendition of the Joker took a good balance between adopting DC mythology and not adopting too much of it. Taking inspiration from Joker’s history as a failed comedian made Arthur Fleck the familiar Joker that fans recognize, but his portrayal as a misfit of society added a new dimension to his character – one that had not been explored such extensively before.
At the center stage of the movie is Joaquin Phoenix, playing the role of Arthur Fleck who is a clown who works for a firm that assigns jobs for him. Arthur is shown to be struggling financially, socially and mentally, which is further established by his daily interactions with his mother and the psychiatrist he sees. Joaquin Phoenix gives a masterful performance as the protagonist struggles to get by his daily life in an increasingly disturbed Gotham which is plagued with unemployment, crime and growing unrest.
A chain of events, trials, suffering and tragedies send Arthur down the spiral of insanity. The directing for the harrowing depiction of the violence, intolerance and ostracism Joaquin Phoenix’s character suffers must be commended here. The setting of Gotham as a frustrated city due to class divide, lawlessness, and poverty, is also firmly established.
The movie did a good job in delving into Arthur’s mental issues, and his hysterical fits of laughter proved to be quite painful and unnerving to watch. There were also hints of delusion and self-centeredness in his behavior throughout the movie. This was a cause of criticism for some viewers with the film coming off as a self-pity account of Joker’s road to madness. The movie lacked some intensity and action, but that was not what was intended. Even where this was the case, the movie made up for it with some particularly iconic, shocking and powerful scenes. Make no mistake, the directing did not lack cinematic experience.
Being a Joker movie, there were obviously elements of anarchy and nihilism, which mainly manifested through Gotham’s lower-class protests and riots. Thomas Wayne, who is cast as a rich man with disdain for the poor, appears to be the antagonist of the movie for a period of time. Arthur’s encounter with Bruce’s father, who is also running for mayor, proves quite impactful, but there always seemed to be room for more substance in his character.
From an entertainment perspective, the movie can be described as an incredibly bizarre range of emotions. The viewer goes from empathizing with the protagonist to experiencing sheer horror from the violence as the character of Joker unravels. Warner Bros.’ attempt at a villain-centered movie is an undeniable success from the shortcomings of Suicide Squad. Great movies set new trends, and Joker certainly has the potential to do so with Warner Bros. already starting production on a movie based on Harley Quinn.
By Syed Talah Imam