Dark, depressing, and undeniably disturbing, recent movie release “Joker” tells the story of Gotham’s most famous villain in the most melancholic manner. This is an excellent work with cruel and heartbreaking twists that make the skin crawl. Filled to the brim with creepy cringiness, this film will shock and rattle viewers scene after scene.
While the character “The Joker” is famously evil and devious, this film really does tell a different tale. Instead of the regular bank robbery, and Batman saving the day, the audience is given a dingy tale of a man hellbent on the path of self destruction. Arthur Fleck, also known as the Joker, is presented as a man who is being eaten alive by mental illness in the middle of the filthy, and harsh world that is Gotham City. He loses everything that keeps himself planted and at the end of the day when he can not possibly give anymore, the world gnaws at his soul until he snaps and cannot help but laugh. Beaten down one day, fired the next, and publicly shamed the day after, Fleck is forever alone, cackling at his own jokes.
“Joker” also makes excellent points on modern political issues. It really displays how fragile the human mind can be. Riots and chaos can be rapidly expanded if there is a face and a symbol to the cause. When there is a spark and a symbol, people’s attention will be grabbed and some will follow even if the message is harmful. In a time like the present, the world has never been more politically tense. “Joker” questions and arguably pokes at the possibility of all hell breaking loose under the influence of single symbol of power.
Arthur Fleck, the man whose jokes never land, is laid bare to the audience as his world and sanity alike crumble around him. Played by Jaoquin Phoenix, an accomplished actor who plays various and diverse rolls. Phoenix has received several awards and nominations including a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media in film, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Both awards received for 2005 film “Walk the Line.”
Phoenix’s talents are definitely showcased by this grim and gritty journey of a film. Fleck is a deeply disturbed man who is considered a failure by most, including his own mother. His sporadic and noninfectious laughter echoes throughout the theatre for a large portion of the film. He will dance alone in dirty, unlit bathrooms with no song except the one playing in his head. Phoenix does an amazing job of going truly mad, because Fleck is on seven medications, wants to up his dose, and it shows.
As beautifully tragic as this film may be, there is one flaw. This film ends is an abrupt and unsatisfying manner that did not match the energy of the closing scenes. As chaos is breaking out and Gotham is up in flames, Flecks maniacally distraught laughter comes to a sudden and unfulfilling close. The ending of the film beacons the thought, “Oh? That’s it?”
“Joker” is the tragic tale of the man who was put in this world to “spread joy and laughter” and fails at doing so time and time again. This film is not for the faint of heart and is as bloody and gritty as they come. In a crime smothered world, where people will step on others to get ahead without batting an eye, Arthur Fleck reminds all “Don’t forget to smile!”