John is a junior in his second year of Journalism. He likes to write, play video games, and watch movies.
Joker: The Darkest Comic Book Movie
October 22, 2019
Joker is a dark, realistic character study of a mentally ill man whose entire life has been meaningless–meaningless, that is, until he sparks political controversy by murdering three men on a subway and slowly losing touch with reality.
Arthur Fleck (played with broken perfection by Joaquin Phoenix) is a man who’s never had a single happy day in his life. He is introduced to the audience with a forced smile in the midst of tears, a look which basically sums up his life. All he wants is to bring happiness to the world by performing as a clown. Instead, he is met with pain, embarrassment, physical abuse, and mistreatment. Eventually, he snaps and resorts to murder in self defense on the subway.
One particularly eerie scene in the movie is when he reaches his true breaking point, dancing alone in a dimly-lit bathroom wearing the iconic “Joker” painted clown face.
Mental illness is one of the main focuses of this movie as viewers are treated to scenes of Fleck’s past experience with abuse, uncontrollable laughter, and depression. Halfway through the movie, his mental clinic is shut down, meaning he no longer has access to his medication or a therapist. We see Fleck driven further and further into madness and an overwhelming hatred for society. One climactic scene finds him going on the talk show of his idol dressed up as The Joker. What happens next shows that he has truly cut the ties to his past and embraced his new, evil persona.
Joker wouldn’t be half as good as it is without Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. He truly carries this movie with his acting and dedication, even going as far as to lose 52 pounds to pull off the otherworldly look of the character. The way Phoenix changes his emotional state from excitement and anticipation to the desire to destroy in a 10-second scene is amazing. His Joker is unlike any other portrayal of the character.
The movie focuses more on the personal tragedy of Arthur Fleck becoming the monster he’s destined to be, rather than by focusing on examples of extreme violence and crime. So don’t expect a massive kill count and crime spree because it’s just not that kind of movie. I personally loved the film, but many viewers may walk away feeling depressed and disturbed.
Joker is a straightforward meditation on an emotionally broken man trying to survive in a hateful society. Whether his choices for survival are understandable is left to the viewer to decide.