We finally saw the Joker today. I say today, but it’s the first time in a long time that we’ve gone to a movie within the first week of it coming out.
I’m going to tell you my thoughts about the movie in general, without spoiling anything, then go a little more in depth with it from behind a cut, so if you haven’t seen it yet, and you don’t want spoilers, don’t click the link for more.
The basic overview is, I liked it. It’s a slow burn movie that slowly amps up the drama and action as it goes until you’re in the thick of things and you didn’t even realize it.
This movie is not a “super hero movie”. There are no super powers, no amazing acts that couldn’t be explained, no huge fight scenes nothing like that. Just a man, and the slow decent into madness. And certainly no heroes.
But parts of the movie are rather brutal, and at times the imagery is unsettling. The way Joaquin Phoenix moves his body, and laughs for no reason, just set your nerves rattling. He is absolutely the star of this movie, able to do something so absolutely horrifying by just being there.
Is it worth seeing in theaters? Yes, if you don’t want spoilers because there are bound to be some online. There are no super amazing FX shots, or grand beautiful sets to watch. On the contrary it’s visceral, dirty, and dingy throughout. But sitting in a dark theater with others around you wall you watch this mans life turn into a beautiful train wreck….there’s something amazing about it.
Lastly, before the spoilers, The Joker is more thought provoking than most super hero flicks. There is no true moral, no clear path through the plot line. There are more questions at the end then answer, and it is all an amazing thing to watch, and may draw you in to see it again.
Now for the spoilers.
The Film Theorist did an interesting theory about Joker before it even came out, and how he may be suffering from schizophrenia. It’s a fantastic theory, and it is quite possible.
What is true about The Joker is that ….there is no way to know for sure how much of it is what happened, and how much is all in his mind. Joker is an unreliable narrator. It is absolutely possible that the whole story is a joke running inside his head. A lot of it absolutely happens in his head, but there are several parts that could be in his head, or some that are partially real and partially fantasy.
Even the part of the film showing how the people rise up to join the joker is suspect because, while it does have real world correlations, the mass violence isn’t necessarily caused by him. He may have influenced it, but it was already brewing under the surface long before he took action, and the ending where the crowds gather around him as some sort of martyr could very well be his mind twisting reality for his purposes. In fact the ending jumps from him in a crowd of people to him in the asylum, so you don’t know how he got there, or what happened. It is equally possible that at the beginning when the first councilor asks him “do you remember why you were in the asylum” it was actually the councilor in the asylum, and everything that followed was his memories, broken and twisted as they were.
But the true horror of the film isn’t the blood, or his uncanny movements. The true horror is the way society shaped him, and molded an already broken man to create a monster. The question we, as the audience, are faced with: did I cause someone to fall? Because there isn’t one big thing that causes Joker to break, no, this is death by a thousand cuts. Each little hurt, each beating, every time he is derided, ignored, or laughed at. The lies from his mother. The lose of his job. They all join together to make him what he is at the end of the film. A person who no longer cares about society since society never gave a damn about him.
Upper Echelon did a fantastic breakdown of exactly what this mirror is that The Joker holds up to society, and how it reflects modern society so well.
There is also everything happening in the background. A man running for mayor that calls all the dregs of society clowns. Gangs over running a city. Lack of resources for the poor. Mental health facilities being shut down. And all of the protesters in the streets screaming “death to capitalism.” They want to tear down the society that failed them, just as much as Joker did. And we can see a correlation in modern society with the various protests that have broken out over the last decade, and how they have gotten increasingly more violent.
In the very last seen we see the crowds indiscriminately destroy small businesses, ambulances, police cars, homes, and everything else they can get their hands on. It has descended into complete chaos and anarchy. And the sad part is I can’t even tell you that would never happen. The horror may revolve around Joker, but it is not limited to him.
I know that I will want to watch this movie again. There are intricate parts I want to tear apart and dissect. So many small things were involved in it that just make it resoundingly interesting. And as an author it is the masterpiece of story telling that really drew me in.