Natalia Bass, Co-Blog-Editor/ Editorials Editor
A captivating and gruesome backstory about a well known villain, Joker tells a tale about society itself as well as the classic character viewers have seen for years. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Joker begins following the life of Arthur Fleck, a street clown who struggles to be understood or “seen” by others in Gotham City. He lives alone with his mother, who depends on him for her every need. Despite the sense of hopelessness Fleck’s situation emits, he dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian and spends a substantial amount of time watching a talk show hosted by Murray Franklin, played by Robert De Niro. Throughout the film, Fleck seems to dip between reality and false promise as he often imagines himself on the talk show and being a part of a society he wishes was real, a society in which he can be himself. Struggling with a mental illness that causes him to laugh uncontrollably at unexpected times, Fleck feels outcast by the public after being fired and treated poorly for the way that he acts. However, he finally feels that he can be himself once he realizes that he has nothing left to lose. After Fleck kills three wall street workers on a subway, protests and riots begin to break out throughout the city claiming that the killer is a hero for standing up to the wealthy in a poverty stricken city. This theme that is seen throughout the movie is what has caused the controversy surrounding it.
A great deal of dispute has been sparked from the messages in the movie. Many view it as a film that justifies violence as a solution to poverty and the injustice shown to people suffering from mental illness. Others think that the portrayal of Arthur Fleck as a good guy will give grounds for brutal rebellion. Thrillist writer Esther Zuckerman asks, “Just as the Joker, in the end, inspires a wave of violence, could the movie do the same?” Due to the amount of fear surrounding the controversy, certain areas of the country had high police presence to make attempts to prevent an event like the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Despite the amount of debate surrounding how the public would react to the film, it does not outright promote violence as a solution. A film can explore moral issues without directly supporting insurrection, especially because Joker explores those issues on a fairly surface level basis. Regardless of the ethics of the movie, there is no doubt that the cinematography is excellent. The music and editing tie the film together making an amazing end product. As Fleck tip toes between reality and his hopeful imagination, the seamless editing style reels in the audience. There is no doubt that Joker will be nominated for a host of awards.