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!

National Harp Day: Centuries of Song

On Saturday October 19th, Ireland celebrated its third annual National Harp Day. The Historical Harp Society of Ireland hosted a Discovery Day event at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre aimed to help the public learn more about the ancient instrument of Ireland.

The haunted lives of the Syrian workers

STAND reviews the documentary Taste of Cement, which projects the plight of the Syrian migrants in Lebanon, who have little choice but to make a living by working on construction sites. The visuals and sounds play an equally important role in the documentary.

Gods of Molenbeek: a look beyond terrorism

Finnish director Reetta Huhtanen tells us the story of Molenbeek, a notorious place in Brussels known as a Jihadi hotbed, through the eyes and voices of 6-year-old residents.

Joker: A cry for attention

STAND reviews Joker, a movie receiving an 8-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival, as well as critics using words such as “toxic”, “cynical” and “irresponsible” to describe its relentlessly embittered tone.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!