If you feel like being depressed and uncomfortable for two straight hours “The Joker” is for you. If not, like me you’ll leave the theater feeling mentally distraught.
To begin, I would like it to be known that before attending this movie I didn’t watch any trailers or previews.
My friends had simply asked if I wanted to tag along and I obliviously said yes. I assumed it would be a typical superhero movie, filled with action, nobility and optimism. I obviously was dead wrong.
Right away we were dropped into the hellfire of Arthur Fleck’s (The Joker) mental state and the atrocity of Gothom.
The Joker was beaten, harassed and looked absolutely distraught. Joaquin Phoenix had to lose 52 pounds for this role and he was a skeleton caked in horrendous clown makeup. Which brings me to my first reason for how the movie unsettled me: clowns.
I understand the Joker has always worn clown-ish face paint but he had never seemed clown-like to me. Ever since the first “IT” remake came out I’ve had an extreme distaste and general fear of clowns.
The Joker wasn’t a demonic clown that munched on children, but he still managed to make me feel equally disturbed.
The Joker’s uncontrollable laugh was one that will now haunt me. It was one of the film’s first signs of darkness.
Throughout every disturbing scene, his laugh was never far behind. Even after murdering another character and sitting in his victim’s blood The Joker laughs, and I cried.
I believe the discomfort I experienced from this film was from its rawness and unfiltered reality.
I have my dark days, but they’re minuscule compared to the torment and decay of the Joker’s mind. The film was surreal because I had a cold realization that this, to a certain degree, could actually be someone’s inner world.
Despite my discomfort, the acting was extremely impressive. Joaquin Phoenix portrayed the mental disarray of Joker impeccably and without fault. He transformed into a character that I couldn’t forget and made me feel as if I was going through the slow progression of insanity with him.
I wanted to know if others had experienced similar emotions after viewing the film so I tracked down fellow students that I knew had watched it.
Minnesota State University, Mankato student Raghen Lucy loved the film so much that she saw it twice.
She stated, “Joker is haunting, beguiling, unforgettable. One doesn’t know whether to fear and hate, or empathize with and love its protagonist. It’s lush with ambiguity and jarring detail — it’s a movie I could watch over and over.”
MNSU student Khaled Alhadiah stated, “I think it has a great story. It is thrilling and sad. But the most important thing is you will never expect what is going to happen.”
MNSU student Mireille Ghassan also shared her thoughts on the film, stating that “the movie had good acting but it still felt off.”
According to Thrillist, filmmaker Todd Phillips offered a little explanation of his intentions with the film at a Venice press conference.
Phillips stated at this conference, “you hate to define it for people, what it is, and it’s certainly not a political film, I mean for some people.” He continued, “it just really depends on the lens on which you view it through.”
Personally, I never want to look through that same lens and experience this mental confusion again.
Header photo by AP.