MILD SPOILER ALERT: “Joker” debuted in theaters on October 4th, 2019, bringing in a whopping $96 million in revenue over the opening weekend. Since the launch, it has earned $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the most profitable comic-book film ever created. The film also generated some controversy, with critics claiming the movie would “set off incel mass shooters.” They further criticized Joker as “juvenile,” “demonizing to the mentally ill” and making “accidental statements about whiteness.” The criticism was mostly from left wing sources, which is curious because the plotline is distinctly left-wing in many ways.
I saw the film with my brother over a week ago. “Joker” has a character-driven plot with fascinating social commentary and brilliant acting. Joaquin Phoenix played the Joker in superb fashion, delivering a dark, nihilistic and logical origin story for the arch-nemesis of Batman. The plot is set in Gotham City where social cohesion is failing, unemployment is rising and men are losing their purpose in society. Arthur Fleck (who becomes the Joker) is a street jester who is mentally-ill, ignored by society and told he is worthless. Eventually his medication is removed, and he snaps. He develops a hatred for elites, and carries out acts of violence for the sole purpose of meaningless angst and chaos. The underlying social commentary reflects the need men have for purpose in their lives, strong male influences (the character Arthur grew up without a father and in an abusive home) and a society that is willing to combat mental illness. Arthur descends into a nihilistic, twisted viewpoint of society. Thus, Joker is born from the ashes of a broken man.
My take on “Joker” summed up in three sentences: Joaquin Phoenix deserves an Oscar for his performance. Joker is dark, depressing and brilliant. Best film of 2019.