After months of anticipation, I saw "Joker" yesterday. Holy shit.
You know that feeling you got after seeing Requiem for a Dream for the first time? That depressed, icky, heartbroken feeling? I felt like that after I saw this, but the biggest difference was that I 1000% empathized with Joker in this film. I wanted to hug him, hold him, love him, and take care of him. I wanted to cheer for him when he took the lives of those who hurt him, beat him, humiliated him, and were blind to him. I didn't think that I would...but I totally did.
The film is so much more than just a backstory to the Joker character. It is a film about mental illness and those who slip through the cracks due to crappy therapists and a system that does not adequately fund mental healthcare. It is about the impact of an apathetic society with a thriving upper class, but a majority of people struggling to keep jobs, care for family members, and even eat a decent meal. It is about a society that thrives on hatred and gets its kicks from being mean and humiliating others. It is about a human being who is screaming for help, but is invisible to everyone around him. It is a film about how one person's actions can be a spark to an explosive revolt within an overstressed and failing society. It shows how even the most unlikely person can become a hero to those who are oppressed and hurting.
"Joker" also touches on the impact of trauma on the human mind, and how the longing for love, acceptance, and belonging can plague a human being when they grow up in a family mostly devoid of love and real human connections.
As a mental health therapist, this film hurt my soul. As a human being, Joker broke my heart and left me in a weepy mess with mascara streaming down my face. I can see now why some were saying this is a dangerous film. Not because of the violence per se, but because of how closely this movie reflects so many of the ills of our own society, and how it will likely resonate with those who have been kicked around by life (and by assholes) one too many times. I believe every single adult should see this film and reflect upon it.
And did I mention the beauty??? This movie is so tragically beautiful and artistic as you watch Arthur Fleck spiral into madness. When he finally transforms into Joker and dances in ecstasy to music that only he can hear, it is terrifying, heartbreaking, and beautiful at the same time. What a movie!!!
And I am going to go ahead and say this (and it takes a lot for me to say this): Joaquin's portrayal of Joker was BETTER than Heath Ledger's.
That's right. Joaquin gave the performance of a lifetime, and this film now ranks as one of the greatest that I have ever seen. I have always felt that Joaquin is one of the greatest actors of our time, but this performance sealed the deal. Go see this movie. Seriously. Just make sure you don't have anything fun planned for the rest of the day, because you will leave the theater heartbroken and, if you're like me, you will be in tears.
I give this movie a 10/10.