Let’s Get Reel: Joker

Sarah Manderbach ‘22, Life & Style Columnist

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Joker has been a movie that many critics, superhero and non superhero fans have been expecting for months. Starting off as something small and eventually escalating into one of the biggest movie debuts of the year, it reached over $96 million on opening weekend and continues to grow. 

Joaquin Phoenix in the role of Arthur Fleck, or as we know him, Joker, puts on a breathtaking display and clearly defines the line between performance and acting. It was like he was almost born into the role.

The plot is interesting, to say the least. Arthur, the protagonist, lives at the bottom of the social ladder, taking care of his mother alone and trying to make a career out of stand-up comedy. It’s the typical trope of an infamous criminal being treated like trash and using that as motivation to rise above it all and finally stand up against that anarchy. In this movie, the audience actually empathizes with Joker as he gets harassed, tossed around, and isolated from the society he grew up in.

Joker is not for the faint of heart, as it turns the violence notch up particularly high. There are scenes of killings that are extremely gruesome and can be uneasy for some movie goers to watch. Although it serves a greater purpose to exemplify the horrors of the life Arthur Fleck lives, it can take many people off-guard.

However, it’s apparent why Joker is receiving the short end of the stick when it comes to criticisms, and even threats. For starters, many are worried that the violent actions in the movie may inspire others to become copycats of the murders done on film. As a result, theaters across the nation are taking extreme precautions. When I went, the Carlisle Theater had a guard stationed at the entrance that checked bags for safety measures. Another prohibited purchase of a single ticket out of fear a single person would go in with intentions of shooting up the place.

Another reason for a dislike of Joker is its representation of mental illness as a means for creating chaos. Arthur Fleck in the film has a disorder where he can laugh at random times uncontrollably, explaining the Joker’s famous laugh. But when it expands beyond Fleck and to those around him, especially in terms of how we view the film, that’s when the message of mental illness can leave a negative impact.

Overall, Joker is a great new twist on the classic DC villain and brought something fresh to the superhero and villain movie franchise.

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