‘Joker’ is a chilling depiction of poverty, abuse, and severe trauma-induced mental illness. It is reflective of the palm-greasing dysfunctional reality of classism serving as a catalyst to aid the aims of those with influence.
My predominant concern prior to seeing the film was that it would lend itself a little too seamlessly to the misguided notion that white men with sad pasts who turn to violence should be granted absolution. The film does an excellent job of constructing a clearly distorted and tragic life for its main character without dictating the reaction of the viewer. Naturally, anyone with a heart finds themselves commiserating with Arthur Fleck. But that doesn’t reduce the abhorrent nature of his actions.
‘Joker’ acknowledges the broken social work system. Detached therapists who view their patients with little to no warmth, robotically asking a myriad of standardized questions, married to lack of funding that results in dismantlement only feeds back into the hopeless atmosphere presented as Gotham. The audience grasps that.
The unknown delusive relationship between Arthur and his mother left a lot to be desired. Was she actually out of her mind? Or did Thomas Wayne use his influence to force a psychotic narrative upon her to avoid facing his responsibilities as a father?
The political motifs that run through the film are, as nearly always, staggeringly relevant to what America saw in 2016 and is seeing in 2019. A rising well-to-do narcissist running on a platform of name-calling and false promise, and a ground-swirl of defiance. The difference between our world and the fictitious world presented in the film lies predominantly in the moral standing of the leaders of each movement. Neither can satisfactorily make their case for a moral high ground.
‘Joker’s’ stories and themes are twisted, distorted, and paint a bleak picture of the world. But everything about the film is executed with such precision and attention to detail, that it’s impossible not to latch onto every word, action, and plot turn. If nothing else, it will make you think. Who is crazy, and who determines the answer to that question?