“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t!”
In an unimaginably cruel and selfish world who could give you a little piece of respite, other than your own delusions? A highly flawed Arthur Fleck ( Joaquin Phoenix) with his pathological laughter, illusions and all engulfing sadness was created to invoke sympathy and Todd Phillips did that with ardour! Not being a heavy duty DC or Marvel fan, Joker 2019 felt to me like an eternal connection to all the mentally challenged loners, who are at the verge of ruining it all for themselves and for the world.
The movie starts with a filthy apartment, a filthier Gotham and our ever despondent Arthur. His decaying health works as a perfect metaphor for his mental state and his surrounding. When you see “super rats” scurrying around, heaps of garbage emitting foul smell and our gullible protagonist being bullied and ridiculed…..all you will have are “Negative Thoughts”! The lack of light just adds another dark layer to our already gloomy minds. His sick and TV addicted mother makes the situation even more dizzy and discomforting.
“ Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Weep, and you weep alone!” (Oldboy)
But to Arthur’s dismay, his untimely smile only calls for his distress. The only thing he somewhat ‘aspired’ to be or the only choice that life left for him, was to be a ‘Joker’ and look at life’s unjustness….he unfailingly failed almost everytime to prove his mettle in that. With a heart so heavy with sadness, was it even distantly possible for someone to make the world smile?
From being caught with a gun in the middle of an act to being mocked in a TV show, Arthur’s character arc was being build slowly and tentatively towards becoming one of cinema’s most celebrated antagonists.
Apart from his mother, the two other people who influenced his destruction (or rise?) were Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) and Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). While the former, a cold hearted politician had a delusional relationship with his mother and the latter in spite of being his demigod tried his best to ruin his self esteem. When Arthur was in the midst of knowing and unknowing about his origin, he met our young Batman. The way they were separated by an iron gate and in the manner Arthur tried to put a smile on Bruce’s indifferent face, was a moment to behold.
A romantic angle between Arthur and Sophie (Zazie Beetz) came as a huge blow as the audience was introduced to another dark and warped side of his character. His mother’s (Frances Conroy) demented mental state ’gifted’ him with an anguished childhood and probably the same mental disorder. Each and every trivial or consequential incident eventually triggered a naive, lonesome, fragile Arthur to become the monstrous ‘Joker’. Powered by Hildur Gudnadottir’s amazing BGM this movie keeps on arousing all the bitter-sad emotions in us.
“I have got nothing left to lose.
Nothing can hurt me anymore.”
As Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” plays in the background, we see an unregretful and content Joker leaving behind a trail of his misdoings and dancing to the devilish tunes which keep on feeding him with heinous ideas.