The year is 1981 in Gotham City, where the rich have become richer and the poor are getting poorer. Isn’t this a story told a number of times? Joker (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix) tells us the story of  Arthur Fleck, a troubled professional clown and wannabe stand-up comedian, who sits in front of a mirror, slowly painting his face. His quest to smile from ear to ear is never so lasted naturally unless he forces it. Joker is a story of a troubled, ignored, abused man. He is a man who is often mocked and misunderstood. He considers himself an outsider in an ever-growing city that has gone from bad to worse. He tries to overcome his laughing fit as the world shuts the door behind him. This movie is ultimately what Joker is: an origin story.

Despite an 8-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival, Todd Phillips’ origins picture about the birth of Batman’s nemesis has become the focus of a moral backlash, with critics using words such as “toxic”, “cynical” and “irresponsible” to describe its relentlessly embittered tone. Joker does everything but gives you easy answers. It is a story of a chaotic invisible individual calling for acknowledgement.

The filmmakers have heavily drawn in equal measure from Martin Scorsese’s media satire The King of Comedy, and Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke. It has a similar worldview filled with characters drunk on self-pity and self-gratification. The main question here would then be whether this movie is about the mental, moral, emotional and physical makeup of an individual who cruises through a number of murders along his way to prove something. Are voices of isolation, abuse and self-pity being acknowledged or even addressed in the society anymore or just being heard and ignored? The feeling of empathy for Arthur Fleck musters momentum for a while but as Arthur screams around the edges of his sanity, this empathy towards him is not guaranteed.

Todd Philips (Director) has definitely thrown open a disturbing subject into popular media. Some critics have heavily criticised this movie due to the portrayal of the mass shooting and extreme violence. While some others have given this movie a standing ovation. A serious issue such as mental health is a subject that needs to be heard and addressed in every form that is possible even if it is through the story of the origin of a villain.

 

Photo by Niko Tavernise (Warner Bros)

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Book Review: Klein Gifts Us With Tools to Unite Climate Action in ‘On Fire’

Naomi Klein is as accessible as ever as she dissects the scientific and economic jargon of climate change, while simultaneously injecting empathy and passion in her fight to hold corporations and fossil fuel companies accountable. On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, has the possibility to unite the movement once again and inspire action on a scale that humanity has never accomplished before.

Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

New York Times journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017. The publication of the first piece on Weinstein led to an influx of messages into Kantor and Twohey’s inboxes from women who had also experienced sexual harassment or assault. In She Said, they explain the process behind their investigative journalism.

Review: Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ is a Mob Drama of Epic Proportions

Scorsese’s latest $150 million passion project details the life of the mob hitman Frank Sheeran, and his involvement with the Bufalino crime family as well as the disappearance of the union leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!