Directed by Todd Phillips and staring Joaquin Phoenix as Joker.
This is not a super hero movie. If you are looking for something like Ironman, or Batman Forever, or even The Dark Knight, do not come here. If you are hoping to see some car chases and gunfights and explosions, do not come here. If you want a nice neat good vs. evil story, do not come here.
This is not one of those movies.
This is the origin story of the classic villain Joker, from the Batman universe. When we meet him he is not The Joker yet, he is Arthur Fleck. He suffers from a condition that causes him to laugh involuntarily and at inappropriate moments, like a Tourette’s tick. When his condition aggravates strangers, he hands out a card that says, “Forgive my laughter. I have a condition. It’s a medical condition causing sudden, frequent, uncontrollable laughter that doesn’t match how you feel. It can happen in people with a brain injury or certain neurological conditions.”
He sees a social worker and is on seven different medications. He lives with and takes care of his aging mother who continually insists the wonderful Thomas Wayne (the future batman’s father) will come rescue them from poverty. He has a job as a clown but what he really wants to be is a stand up comedian.
But he is out of sync with the rest of the world. We see him at a comedy club and as the comedian cracks jokes, Arthur laughs when everyone else is silent, and silent when everyone else laughs. Later he sits alone in his apartment giggling at a joke he has written, “The funny thing about having a mental illness is that people expect you to act as if you don’t.” He is scared and sad and lost. He is in pain.
Then he loses his job… Then state funding gets cut and he is let go by his social worker… And then he gets beaten up… again.
At this point things begin to change. He begins to change. And the transformation is beautiful. I was transfixed, fascinated, enwrapped and enthralled. Even though it was the birth of a super villain, I found myself inspired.
This is why: Arthur changed his life by changing his perspective. He flipped everything upside down by choosing to accept himself how he is, to embrace his difference from normal society. He took the part of himself that society had shamed him for his whole life and he turned it into a shield that protected him from that very same society.
He turned his biggest weakness into his greatest weapon and used it to fight for his place in this world.
And once he did that, he was free.
Favorite Character: the joker (duh)
Favorite Scene: Oh how do I pick just one? How about his face? Can I pick an actor’s face as my favorite scene? Well this is my blog and I made up these categories so I suppose I absolutely can. So, his face. I don’t know how he did it but he would laugh and his eyes would be screaming. It was a beautiful mixture. It wasn’t a creepy thing (like say, the smiles on the show Marianne where there is evil in the eyes and a grin on the face). This was different… you could see his throat working to stop the laugh, he would choke and cough, his mouth would twitch from happy to sad like a broken light switch, and all the while you could read the pain and hopelessness in his eyes. There was panic in those eyes, a pleading for help, for mercy, for relief. That was my favorite scene …
His f*cking face.
Or maybe it was any time he danced. He spent so much time hunched over and trodden down, that when he finally feels something other than horror, he dances. It’s not good dancing. It’s weird and looks like a combination of circus clown, martial arts, ballroom, and just rocking out. But it was beautiful because of the transformation it expressed.
Favorite Line: “All I have are negative thoughts”
“I just don’t want to feel so bad all the time.”
“What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? …
You get what you f*cking deserve.”
Gore Level: No gore, but that is not to say it wasn’t disturbing. It was absolutely disturbing. But there was no real blood and guts. There was violence. Kicking, punching, a few guns went off, angry mobs rioting, that kind of thing.
This is a movie about mental illness and society. And it has made it into my top five favorite movies of all time. I F*CKING LOVE THIS MOVIE.