Joker is available to rent or buy.
Few films have divided critical opinion to the extent of Todd Philips’ Joker. On release, comments ranged from “the year’s biggest disappointment” to “a hypnotically perverse, ghoulishly gripping urban nightmare.” Meanwhile, audience reactions were equally mixed, with many hailing Joker as one of the finest movies ever made while others expressed concern at its themes and content. Here Joker opens an uncomfortable door on the deadly power of isolation and the devastating impact of declining mental health while also exploring themes of bullying, humiliation and loneliness.
In a world where our concept of good and evil is often starkly defined, Joker challenges us to take a second look. As a society, we often buy into age-old ideas of good and evil while shying away from the grey areas between both. Yet, in reality, we all know that a good person can do bad things and that the concept of evil is far more psychologically complex than we choose to accept. For example, we know that those we label as evil were once innocent children exploring their world, yet we rarely explore or ask questions about the moment their world turned sour and the reasons for their eventual actions.
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These grey areas challenge our sense of comfort, asking us to explore and reflect on our society in all its complexity. Joker was controversial and divisive due to its bravery in encouraging us to examine uncomfortable realities we largely choose to ignore. In Phillips’ film, we are asked to explore the slow descent into darkness of a man who has been failed by society.
If Joker made you feel uncomfortable, it was supposed to as it asked you to empathise with Arthur while challenging your simplistic notions of good and evil; it is a masterclass in conversational filmmaking that takes clear inspiration from Taxi Driver (1976). Here Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix take the most sinister comic book character ever created and remove the mask to uncover the man beneath. A man who lives in a dangerous, polarised and politically deadly world where many find themselves sidelined and silenced as they search for security. If this sounds familiar, it should! Arthur’s world is no fantasy creation; it’s the one we live in today.
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Joker is designed to make the audience squirm, digging deep into subconscious perceptions of good and evil through a screenplay and performance bathed in anger, aggression, sadness and betrayal. It is a complex portrait of the true horrors of our modern world and those who fall through the safety net once designed to catch them in a society built on instant judgement and social alienation. Joker is a bold, daring, devastating and beautiful film, one that challenges us all to psychologically explore a killer clown whose deadly smile hides a screaming lost soul.