(full of spoilers, people)
So I have finally come around to watching Joker. Whenever something is popular I experience a mental block to check it out. I still haven’t read Harry Potter. There are notable exceptions when a good friend pushes me enough. I did not escape a certain series with the lamest ending ever. Yeah, you guessed. Game of drones. Drone as in: ‘someone who takes more time than necessary; someone who lags behind’
Joker is at times heartbreaking. Now that am a father tales of child abuse hit me harder than ever before, but still, the movie gives an accurate, believable image of what severe childhood trauma can do to a person.
The acting is superb. I am not a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix, but he steals the show from the first second till the last. More people have mentioned this, but hey, the boy has some smooth dancing moves up his sleeve too.
One critical review I found points out that the movie doesn’t go deep enough and wants to be too many things at the same time. I agree it doesn’t go too deep, but compared to most movies it goes deep enough.
You see a build up of cracks to a person’s ego. Joker takes the devil’s road quite late in the game. A lot of shit happens to him and he still tries to entertain a little boy on the subway, only to be rebuked by the hard-assed mother of the boy.
You get to see the coldness of a city, the alienation, the immense gap between the rich and the rest of us, how we really don’t notice each other, how cruel we are, how we objectify each other, how cowardly we are, how we exploit each other. The funny thing is that anyone exposing the depressing charade we all meekly participate in will be seen as the bad guy.
Joker’s first act of violence is killing three well to do guys on the subway. But only after they harass and disrespect a young woman AND start kicking the shit out of him. Our society always condemns taking somebody else’s life and for good reason, but apart from that we do let people get away with a lot of shitty acts, especially if they fit a certain profile. Dressed in a suit, educated, well-kempt, arrogant. Although killing them was too much, if he hadn’t done that they would never have been punished for beating him up. He had done nothing to deserve such harsh treatment.
The movie is at times also quite subtle. I got the strong feeling one of his male colleagues expected to get sexual favors from Joker. This is never shown, but it’s vaguely implied.
Movie characters are rarely about all of us. Personally I think we all have a breaking point like Joker when the last resort we have is murder.
I think Joker tells us more about the psychology of those who go on a mass shooting spree than any other movie.
We live in a culture that celebrates only the ‘special’. The famous. The talented. The rich. If you are somewhere near the bottom of society but have big dreams and you constantly feel humiliated, stressed, plagued by financial worries something can snap.
There is a theory as to why black men in the US don’t become mass shooters. It’s because they feel excluded from the American Dream from the get go. They never experience the massive, ego shattering disapointment of waking up and realizing that success, fame, wealth are not behind the corner. That the American dream is a myth.
Joker had my sympathy most of the time. Except when he killed the TV host (not deserved, although powerful as a commentary on our exploitative society) or killed his mother (she did deserve it, but still, not enough). This is the only movie of the batman/joker franchise I have been able to sit through without being bored as fuck.
Without the stellar performance of Joaquin Phoenix it would have been quite boring though. He made a flimsy story into one of the most depressing, sad movies ever. I don’t want to see it twice, because it was so brutally, yet realistically dark. I mean that as a compliment. What I don’t mean as a compliment is that it has almost no redeeming qualities. It offers almost no glimmer of hope. At no point even hints at a way out of the vile pit of selfishness humans have created. It even suggests that there is no real future for those who have been fucked up in childhood. Worst case scenario: Joker tells us the truth and we can’t handle it.
It’s almost the opposite of Good Will Hunting, a movie I do rewatch every year.
(full of spoilers, people)