“The Joker” delivers an honest portrayal of the importance of mental health
by Ben Bolstrum, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of forbes.com
There are many positive aspects about the Oct. 4 release of “The Joker.” Creative and claustrophobic camera angles set the tone of a person going through a mental breakdown perfectly, allowing the viewer to empathize with protagonist Arthur Fleck and see the city through his eyes. The color palette is melancholic and moody, making the occasional vibrant hue stand out in a depressive sea as well as immersing the viewer into the twisted world of 1980s Gotham City.
The soundtrack is tonally fitting for Arthur’s transformation into the Joker with a haunting score to match. It grows with the character, starting with quiet, depressing tones before growing loud and aggressive, finally finding its stride.
Joaquin Phoenix had large boots to fill after such iconic performances as Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamill, but he committed to making the character his own in a chillingly fantastic display wherein viewers don’t know whether to cheer or boo at his actions.
Unfortunately, there are some negative aspects to the film as well.
It’s no secret that “The Joker” has been under media scrutiny for the potential of inciting violence. Undoubtedly, there will be people who get the wrong impression of this film and idolize Arthur. This is an unfortunate result of media controversy and modern politics.
Viewers with a disdain for visceral violence and portrayals of troubled mental health are safe to avoid this film. Most themes in this movie are delivered heavy handedly.
A running metanarrative of this film is that society created the Joker. The world failed a friendly, well meaning, down-on-his-luck man which caused him to snap. His problems and insecurities are solved by criminal action, the consequences of which are portrayed in a sloppy, hard to follow manner. Viewers are left with a very conflicting message due to a messy third act that doesn’t provide enough explanation to how the plot landed where it did.
“The Joker” will remain a very controversial film. Those who expect a movie with layered themes and morals may be disappointed in a surface level attempt at analyzing the pitfalls of society, but DC fans waiting for a unique take, not only on the clown prince of crime, but Gotham City itself will surely find enjoyment in a unique, exciting take on the genre.