MY FRIEND has a good advice to those who want to watch the movie Joker. Watch with friends. I may also add, watch with a good mood.
Because another friend watched this film right after a whole day of stress from work. She ended up more stressed. I watched this on a rainy night, alone, after finding it hard to get a ride home. I ended up walking home soaked with images of derangement.
Joker is a movie that disturbs. It's not your superhero comic villain type of movie where you escape from your reality and get entertained. Instead, this is a movie that drills the pain and twisted thoughts of a villain into your mind and you're stuck with it.
It goes to show how great the actor Joaquin Phoenix is in portraying Joker/Arthur Fleck. He shows his character's downward spiral, from a good-hearted lonely man battling mental illness, trying his luck as a clown and stand-up comedian. When events around him make him fail, he snaps.
This movie also gives a social commentary that society contributes to mental illness and our anxieties.
For instance, this LRT and MRTs breaking down in Manila is causing more stress to the working class and students racing to their destination. A meme showed Joker dancing along the stairway of the station, just showing how crazy and neglected our transit system is.
The movie shows how politics and the elite have neglected the needs of the people. The social welfare budget was cut down, thereby stopping the pills needed for Joker to survive. In our country, our public health budget was cut down by P 9.39 billion. Government hospitals get zero capital outlay. Now we have common diseases coming back, from polio to dengue, which causes more anxiety to parents.
People are stressed for lack of jobs, high prices, threats of houses being demolished, corrupt cops, killings left and right. Adding to the stress is how politicians have become a joke, dancing budots to win, making wild and erroneous public statements. It seems punch lines are the norm.
Meanwhile, our president tries to do his usual rambling in a forum with political leaders in Russia, but gets cut off because no one from the forum can take his jokes and ramblings on killing criminals and flirting with women.
That we elected clowns in office that set off anger and chaos seem to be the underlying message of the movie. When Joker shot dead three Wall Street brokers who beat him in a subway, this sparks a protest movement of people who hail him as a vigilante and imitated his looks. When Joker appears on TV to speak of his anger towards society and the elite, it triggered more riots.
That is why this movie is disturbing. Clowns and killing jokes get elected and hailed as heroes. But this is just a movie anyway, isn't it?