I just saw “Joker” starring Joaquin Phoenix, as the titular character, directed by Todd Phillip, because of its Oscar nomination for Best Picture, and the great odds that Phoenix will win the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance.
That being said, I had a lot of apprehension going into it. I had put off watching it for more than four months, as it released on October 4. The movie, as expected, was very dark and very violent. The gun violence in particular is a disturbingly prominent component of the movie.
A central theme of the film was mental illness and society’s ignorance and lack of concern for people with very real needs. The unfolding of the horror on screen highlights some of the complicated issues involved. There are certainly no easy answers or quick fixes.
Another theme was pitting the rich against the poor. Arthur Fleck, aka Joker, is a struggling comedian, living in a rundown apartment with his aging mom. Thomas Wayne is a wealthy philanthropist, who speaks out against the murder of three Wall Street stockbrokers on the subway. The film revives the ongoing discussion of wealth inequality of the 1%, movements like Occupy Wall Street, and films like “V for Vendetta.” Fleck, though an outcast, bullied his entire life, laughed at (not for the jokes), becomes a symbol for the poor and downtrodden to stand up against the oppression of the wealthy.
The film portrays him both as heinous villain and unlikely hero. The ugly crimes he commits make you turn away, but also causes you to pause. Joker becomes the leader of a revolution, however, you can see that revolution through violence and hate leads to a dark, destructive path.
The film also stars Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy, among others. It was nominated for 11 Oscars including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
How do I feel about the film? Joaquin Phoenix was an excellent sociopath.
But I wouldn’t watch it again.
The movie depicts how scary anarchism could really become if people chose to rise up and follow someone like Joker. I think there are some terrifying parallels between someone like Hitler and Joker. People filled with hate, who experience a taste of power, and then decide to wield that power to carry out their own personal vengeance against the object of their ire. The fabric of society tears apart at the seams as hate overtakes all reason.
Watch at your own risk and prepare yourself if you do decide to see it.
You can rent the film from Amazon here.
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