Joker is surely a debatable and controversial film. Because of the subject matter and how it shown and portrayed, there are two extreme groups of opinions about this film. One is critical of the film and find it flawed to its core and other praise it for their own particular reasons. Though I am familiar with both of these opinions and can resonate and agree with both of them, I am still quite unable to form one resolute opinion.
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shia Whigham, Marc Maron and more.
One of the opinion is that Joker being a well made film, no doubt, but is fundamentally flawed in its portrayal of anti-heroism, seductive and glorifying violence, and of course it does take inspiration from other films, being nothing but a pastiche hollow pastiche of great classics. Some even say that it just rips off the classics like Taxi Driver(1976) and The King Of Comedy(1982), both trademark Scorsese. And the other major problem critics of the film have is that it is affecting people in a very negative way, especially gullible violence loving youth. Yes, it is no denying that younger audience is indeed finding perverted satisfaction in this stunning looking but idiotic, messy violence that Joker is showing.
Surely it is indeed affecting the people in a bad way, to some extent to some extent if not significantly, since Joker is now being kind of an idol among the youth, inspite being morally wrong. People perceive him as a saviour or representative of the oppressed, which we see in the film but that idea has spread to the people who watch the film as well. The younger ones, who are idolizing him because of visual glamorized violence Joker shows. It to some extent true that, yes, it is indeed not a good sign.
But at the same time, I can see the point of makers of the film as well. They obviously did not expect this outcome or this kind of reaction from the audience. It was a careful tale of a man, falling into the pit of insanity, through family trauma, overall gradual neglect and mockery and top of that insufficient facilities to help him recover from that. Although there may or may not be political agendas, of which it is often accused. The content is prone to that kind of discussion.
But as filmmaking process, the makers have their own reasonable point. The film is on social issues, mental health, futile violence and social disorder, and it is bound to create such friction. Also, it is somewhat viewer’s fault to perceive this all so poorly; idolizing the obvious villain, or atleast an antihero. People always liked to do that. We have seen countless examples where the antiheroes are glorified unreasonably. Although what happened to Arthur was unfortunate and his fate was disappointing but that gives us the reason to sympathize with him but not to glorify him.
I see in terms of storytelling and what the director showed in the film was fairly fine. Although there were moments of glamorized violence and ambiguity in what the side the director was actually on. It was a really thin line. Still makers have that liberty to use their creative vision and provide certain qualities they want to give to a particular movie. Even if they are provocative.
Todd Phillips has directed the film undoubtedly well, many things went right, and which are not quite debatable. Joaquin’s performance as a paranoid lunatic Arthur Fleck is major one of them. He has dedicated immensely in this film. Also the score was great by Hildur Guðnadóttir. Best of luck pronouncing it! The score had haunting beauty of depression and worked perfectly for the film’s theme and ambience. It gives film a very special feel. It is eery, haunting, yet beautiful in its bleakness. Robert De Niro as the show host was great as usual. He played role of complete opposite in The King Of Comedy and it is admiring how much range he has as an actor.
As I fould later in one of the interviews of Martin Scorsese, he supposedly said to have directed the film. And was closely involved with the project. I would have loved him directing the film. But for some reason he could not direct it. There were certain similarities of this film to Scorsese’s classic The King Of Comedy and also Taxi Driver. And I hope this have something to do with Scorsese and his involvement in the project. If not, then it is straight up unabashed plagiarism, in the name of taking inspiration and paying homage to the undoubtedly superior and far more sensible portrayals of mental illness, violence and anti-heroism.