I have been looking forward to seeing this movie since 2017 when the news first broke that it was getting made. I remember distinctly telling my friend how I was super depressed, because I was at the time, but at least Joker was coming out so that’s something to look forward to.
I know, how sad right? Really though, I have had 3 crap years in a row and if my light at the end of the tunnel was looking forward to a comic book character’s origin story, then so be it. Let me live.
Okay so let’s get into it.
The first scene starts out where our protagonist works as a sign spinner, you know one of those people who stand outside a business establishment and twirls the sign of said establishment? Looks like a pretty fun job if the weather isn’t bad. Anyway, this is Arthur Fleck. He dresses like a clown, dances while spinning the sign, happily trying to make people smile as they walk by. Can a man do his job in peace? Nope.
He gets harassed by a group of teenagers who then go on to steal his sign, hits him with it, breaks it and jumps him, kicking the crap out of him. He lays there suffering from the beat down when JOKER in large letters flash on the screen. You know at this point, this film is going to be intense.
And it is… In fact, if you thought that was a bad day, the hits just keep on coming. Arthur just continues to be shit on by life. Scene after scene is what could best be described by the phrase: When it rains, it pours. Arthur just wants to go to his job, take care of his mother, get his meds and feel less horrible. You’d think that wouldn’t be a lot to ask out of life, but turns out, it is.
Arthur goes on to be set up by his coworker, fired from his job because of it, beat up on the subway, all this as the government closes down the mental health facility where he see’s a therapist and gets his medication.
It’s enough to make anyone insane.
Yet, Arthur Fleck still manages to come off as a likable character. You feel for this man. He has no friends, no woman and still he is a quiet, helpful man who keeps to himself. When things keep going from bad to worse and he loses his job however, you know he’s going to quickly spiral out of control.
And he does…
I don’t want to give too many spoilers. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading now and go see it!
If you have seen it, let’s continue shall we?
I really loved this film. We could have plenty of discussions about various points this movie brings up, but what the overall film is about, in my opinion is, mental illness, isolation and loneliness. Being discarded from the world around you. Feeling invisible as you go about your day to day life doing the same thing over and over while everyone around you passes you by as if you are not even there.
The feeling of complete separateness from society, detachment from the world at large and how one continues through the drudgery of life without joy, any sense of hope, human touch or companionship.
Yes he has his mother, but we come to find out later in the film, that relationship isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He has his neighbor Sophie, we think. But there too we soon realize, it is all in Arthur’s mind that he is with Sophie. His fantasy that helped him get through the day, the lovely and kind Sophie is indeed not Arthur’s girlfriend at all, she barely knows him and the scene that shows this twist is profoundly chilling. It is that scene where you start to see Joker emerging from the shadows.
Because let me tell you, my opinion, is that he is still Arthur Fleck when he kills the 3 douchebags on the subway. That was self defense that then turned into temporary insanity, I would argue if I was Joker’s attorney, after being beat and nearly killed, he did go after the runner to make sure he was properly dead, yes, BUT did you not secretly say to yourself: “Good for him.” “That’s what they get.” It’s okay if you did. This blog is a safe space. You can admit it freely that it felt damn good to see Arthur fight back and stop those bullies from tormenting anyone else.
I admit it, so I’m sure I will be added to some watch list now. Oh well. Such is life, but I digress…
Arthur goes on to do a little martial arts dance in the bathroom after the killings because hey, it’s the first time in his life he has felt control of things. He’s in his power. He is no longer a victim. It’s a really amazing scene.
You see, Arthur’s dream is to be a stand up comedian. He just can’t seem to make people laugh is all. That and his supposed “condition” which has him laughing hysterically at the most inappropriate times. I say supposed, because his mother told him he had the condition. But it really wasn’t a condition, it was him.
He later proceeds to smother his mother with a pillow like the Chief did Randall in One flew over the Cuckoos Nest.
Arthur goes home to celebrate the death of his mother, but is quickly interrupted by two of his coworkers. The fat traitor who gave him a gun and set him up, and Gary, the little person coworker that was always nice.
We see Arthur put scissors in his pocket before opening the door, letting them in, so we pretty much sense a blood bath coming. It is wonderfully violent for all you gore enthusiasts out there. It is also touching because he let’s Gary leave unharmed as he was always nice to Arthur. He was the only one.
See, you never know with the Joker, what he will do and that’s what makes him captivating. He then dances down the stairs on his way to the Murray Franklin Show and it is cinematic epicness.
The scene that has everyone taking though, is when he gets called to appear on the Murray Franklin show, which he has watched and is a fan of it would seem, up until Murray made fun of his comedy skit on national TV. That was messed up and you could probably sue for slander these days if someone did that, but Arthur decides to go on Murray’s show anyway and handle it his way. Joker’s way.
Now might be a good time for a joke. What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash?
You get one of the best scenes EVER!!!! That’s what you get! I heard gasps in the theatre I was in. I didn’t see it coming, I mean, I may have entertained the thought, but when it happened, I was still taken aback.
Arthur Fleck is now fully Joker.
As the ending approaches we see some things to do with Thomas Wayne and family, if you know, you know. We also see Joker being driven away in the back of cop car. A nod, no doubt, to one Dark Knight and the never forgotten Heath Ledger. I loved Heath Ledger’s Joker and I also love Joaquin’s. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant in this film. One of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen.
In the end, Joker has found his people. His tribe. He is the leader of massive group of other equally forgotten people who have endured all they are going to take from a society that shuns them and a government that tells them everything will be fine while they scramble to pay bills and worry every day of their life about things no rich person ever has to worry about.
He is accepted. He is admired. He is the Clown Prince of Crime.
You may think I am supporting Joker by my review, but I am merely explaining through my eyes, my opinion. The eyes of a person who has felt isolation and depression. A person who has felt loss, inner pain and anguish, but continued forging on, surviving nonetheless with a smile.
My father taught me to always smile, no matter what you are feeling on the inside and I always have. There are many people out there that are going to feel for this character. They are going to relate and even root for him, even if they say otherwise.
Are they going to go on a kill spree because of it, probably not. But with the various random shootings in this country, it might be a good idea to ask why? Why is this happening?
Who creates the environment where these people come from and what is your role in how this environment was created?
Were you nice to people you encounter on the day to day? Do you ask people how they are? Do you even care? Do you think about famous people more than the people in your own neighborhood, your town? This is a film that will make you face your own morality. How far could you be pushed before snapping? On the flip side, how long can you treat someone as if they don’t exist before they remind you they do?
Maybe we should look around us more and actually see the people we are sharing the earth with. Maybe put ourselves in others shoes before making fun or condemning them without knowing them. Maybe take the time to say hello, thank you or just smile at someone you make eye contact with. Because you never know what it could do for them.
I can tell you this. It’s better than what’s going on now with everyone bullying, ignoring, ghosting, screaming, insulting, dividing and being a rat bastard to each other.
I mean, it’s your choice.