Joker was released on Oct 4, revealing the darkness and despair behind one of DC Comics’ most popular villains.
Arthur Fleck, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, suffers a life of oppression and abuse that leads to his killer-clown persona. As the film presents a chilling backstory, viewers can’t help but feel sympathetic towards the deranged character. The film shines a brutally honest spotlight on the misfortune of lower socioeconomic classes, illustrating how they are forgotten and how help is hidden from them. Joker didn’t become Joker because he was born with a clown face—he became Joker because the system failed him horribly.
For many, Fleck’s decline into insanity is relatable. Untreated mental illness, lack of mental health services, public humiliation, and the rich blatantly ignoring the pleads of the poor all plague our society in the real world. Each of these factors lead to the demise of Arthur Fleck and the rise of Joker.
The film itself is an impressive work of art. It wasn’t the content alone that highlighted these struggles; each camera angle thoroughly captured the haunting pain that Fleck faced. While Fleck danced across the screen, the camera focused sharply on the distortion of his body. Fleck became lost in his own mind, and the camera work reflected this by focusing on his body alone.
There was not a brightly colored scene in the movie until Joker himself was fully realized. The movie’s dreary colors reflected Fleck’s dark life; when blinding colors are finally introduced, its is clear that the villainous clown identity has been embraced. The colorization of the film was a subtle but brilliant strategy to bring the audience into the mindset of the Joker himself.
Phoenix earned himself a spot on the list of top portrayals of Joker. Although the iconic Heath Ledger rightfully tops the public’s list of favorites, Phoenix brought a different, captivating aura that left audiences with chills. He is a master of immersion, diving into the deepest depths of his character both physically and emotionally. He voluntarily endured an incredible 52 pound weight loss for the movie to fit the unstable, malnourished look, and perfected an unsettling cackle.
The movie was a smashing success in creating empathy for the supervillain. It provides a view on the disenfranchised members of our society who have been cast out and ignored. The artistry of the directors coupled with Phoenix’s brilliant acting made the film a five star event.