Joker is available to rent or buy.
Few films have divided critics like Todd Philips’ Joker. On its release, comments ranged from “the year’s biggest disappointment” to “a hypnotically perverse, ghoulishly gripping urban nightmare.” Audience reactions were equally mixed, with many hailing Joker as one of the best movies ever made, while others expressed concern at its themes and content. In truth, Joker opened an uncomfortable door to the deadly power of isolation and the devastating impact of declining mental health while also exploring themes of bullying, humiliation and loneliness, making it a divisive experience and one tied to the individual.
Joker challenges us to take a second look at a world where our concept of good and evil is starkly defined. Society often buys 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 ask why their world turned sour or the reasons for their eventual actions. These grey areas challenge us and our simple societal labels. Joker was controversial due to its bravery in encouraging us to examine uncomfortable realities we primarily choose to ignore. In Phillips’ film, we are challenged to embrace the darkest truth; a good man who is failed by society can become a villain.
If Joker made you uncomfortable, it was supposed to, as it asked you to empathise with Arthur by taking clear inspiration from Taxi Driver (1976). Here Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix would take the most sinister comic book character ever created and remove the mask, uncovering the human beneath. Arthur is a man who lives in a dangerous, polarised world where many are sidelined and silenced as they search for security and belonging, and if this sounds familiar, it should! Arthur’s world is no fantasy; it’s the one we live in today.
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.
BEAU IS AFRAID