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A controversial criminal: 'Joker' is no laughing matter

November 19, 2019

A lot of controversy has surrounded the release of “Joker”, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck. According to Fox Business, many theatres have banned costumes and face paint at showings of the movie. This is a result of the shooting that took place in a Colorado theatre in 2012 during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”, where the shooter was dressed as the Joker.

 

I saw “Joker” at Crosswood Cinema in the Ultra IMAX theater, one week after the movie released. It was still very crowded, especially for an 11 p.m. showing. 

 

 

I speak for the majority of people when I say that this film wasn’t easy to watch. Phoenix does a great job of capturing the insanity of the Joker character with his unsettling laugh and shaky voice, but it certainly keeps everyone in the theatre uncomfortable.

 

Arthur Fleck has a mental illness that causes him to laugh uncontrollably, which I think adds to the awkwardness of the movie. It also gives the movie it’s chance to address mental illness. 

Watching Phoenix’s character slowly change from mentally ill to mentally insane was compelling to watch. Knowing ahead of time that Joker is a villain movie kept me on my toes waiting for the switch to happen. 

 

One element I found very unsettling, was Arthur’s ‘relationship’ with the woman two doors down from him. Throughout the movie, viewers see scenes of him with this woman, as if they are dating. However, they later find out this is his imagination, when he walks into her apartment, and she freaks out because she in fact does not know him at all. 

 

The story also follows Arthur’s idolization of a talk show host Murray Franklin, played by Robert De Niro. Arthur gets invited on the show after a clip of his embarrassing attempt at stand-up comedy is mocked on the show. 

 

During his appearence on the show, Arthur not only admits to murder, but commits one by shooting Franklin on the head. He states that society has treated him poorly due to his mental illness, and says that Franklin is getting what he deserves. 

 

Many viewers thought the way “Joker” confronted the way society treats people with mental illness was cliche, but I think the movie executed it rather well. It finally gave an in depth origin story for the character fans have seen over and over again, while still incorporating that message.    

 

The ending of the movie has left lots of fans either frustrated, confused or both. The movie ends with Arthur in what looks like an interrogation room, laughing about a joke he was thinking about. He then walks out of the room with blood on his feet, leaving the audience to assume that he killed the lady in the room.

 

Many viewers seem to believe that this ending insinuates that the whole movie was just him thinking in his head, as then it cuts to reality of him in the room, according to BGR. This idea would not be a huge surprise, given the character’s past of multiple backgrounds, but this ambiguity is part of the film that the viewer has to decide how to interpret. 

 

Overall, the movie did exactly what it was intended to do, which is make everyone extremely uncomfortable. I would rate this movie an 8/10 laughs, but I would probably not go see it again because it was so hard to watch the first time. 

            

 

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