It’s been a while since i wrote for DCWorld. I’m normally busy under the hood in the background, making sure the website ticks by nicely. But Joker is a film that struck hard with me, and I felt I needed to write about it.
Normally, I wouldn’t write spoiler-free reviews, I feel it’s much easier to put your opinions and thoughts across if people know exactly what you are talking about. However, I don’t want to be held responsible for ruining this marvellous piece of cinema for people that have yet to watch it.
Mental Health is all up in your face now, and for good reason. For years bad mental health has been ignored, not considered an illness, or in some cases even a disability.
Recently, however, Mental Health is getting more notice. And this is a good thing.
I read reviews and articles about Joker before I went to see it on release day, saying that Joker is bad because it makes you sympathize with a maniac, that army and police were being warned by Government’s about watching the film because of it’s hard-hitting mental health content. Well, here’s the truth in my eyes.
Joker is a movie, in the main, about a man called Arthur Fleck. He’s had mental health issues his whole life, and has never really felt like he ‘existed’. The film shows the development of a man with low self-esteem and mental health issues, into a full-on criminal who has issues knowing what is real and what isn’t.
The way that it delves into the story of Arthur Fleck is fantastic, you never really know if what you are watching is real, or in his head.
Throughout the movie, you have that feeling that Arthur is really a good person, but he is a victim of circumstance. This doesn’t mean that you are sympathising with him, simply that you can acknowledge that anybody in his position could turn out the way that he has turned out.
The main work in this film, is of course the work of Joaquin Phoenix. Before this film, the only movie i’d previously seen him in was Signs. I didn’t know much about him. But now, he’s portrayed probably my favourite version of Joker in cinema. Heath Ledger was fantastic in his own right, but Phoenix brings a side to the Joker that you have never seen before.
He definitely takes some influence from previous Jokers, and many people will instantly think of Heath Ledger’s Joker because of the similar look they share, especially towards the end of Joker. But Phoenix’s Joker is one in it’s own.
It also shows how Mental Health services are just not available in the amount that they need to be, which reflects on real-life situations not just in America, but in the UK and many other countries too.
I like films that make me go WOW. No film has really wow’d me since Avatar in 2009, the special effects in that movie at the time, were phenomenal. I’m not an avid cinema-goer and normally wait until films come out on DVD/Blu-ray before I watch them. Even Aquaman and Wonder Woman got the Google Play treatment.
But Joker, 10 years on, wow’d me. I came out of the cinema and instantly wanted to go back in and watch it again. I’ve even persuaded my ‘comic-book muggle’ parents to go and see it. If you didn’t call it Joker, you could get away with saying that this film isn’t a comic-book movie.
I think that is where some of the disappointment in places like The Guardian has come from. We are so used to galaxy-whizzing, technology boasting superheroes from the Marvel Universe, that every time we go to see a comic-book movie that’s what we expect. To an extent, Marvel has ruined the landscape for comic-book movies, as people just expect every one of them to be like a Marvel movie. That, Joker is not.
It’s a hard-hitting, thought-provoking movie with an outstanding lead role performance from Joaquin Phoenix, and i encourage you to go and see it.
You shouldn’t be scared of going to see this film. Yes, it is hard-hitting, and yes there are some grim scenes which some would probably rather not see.
It’s an important film, that although is in the end, based on a comic-book character, the best-known villain in comic books, broaches it’s subject in a way we haven’t seen before.