This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Kopo’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Casting everything else aside, one thing stands out about Joker to me:
Watching it, I was enthralled. Hours afterward, all emotional connection was lost.
Even thinking back to it, the events that would eventually lead to Joker's creation was like a distant image of a youthful past. All feelings, connection, or presence removed from a sequence of distorted "highlights" that all ring empty. In a sense, Joker is a film that enthralled me during, but afterwards, it all felt somewhat worthless.
Many, many people (particularly on this site) have labeled this as a dangerous stepping stone for incels and dangerous individuals to rise up. I understand. Others see it as a message to be kind to those less fortunate. I see that, too. A decent patch even believes it means nothing and is just entertainment for its own sake. I... almost agree with that, as well. Joker, more than anything, is a floundering fish looking for any source of water. Does it inspire incels? Does it provide the key to combating the rise of incels? Does it do both and cancel each other out—if that, what does it even matter then? It seems to want to do everything. For that, it ends up failing somewhat in both.
As a growing optimist (I wonder about this sometimes), what was most prevalent to me was Arthur as a sympathetic person. He's being abused, beaten, and lied to by nearly everyone, which all play a part in his growing insanity. So... uh... be nice? Like, I found that to be a pretty simple thing. Be nice to people. Hold out your hand. Turn the other cheek. Don't be a fucking dick. When people understand empathy, their desire for immoral values decrease. I found it hilarious when Joker didn't hurt the one person who was nice to him the entire film. He even notes it. I found that to be a pretty easy clue to this, too. I almost never see this being highlighted in others' reviews.
Writing was a little too frank for my tastes. Like an exaggerated emphasis of darkness, where everyone in the world is a giant piece of shit, Arthur can thrive off the negativity and eventually find himself embodying that darkness. Acting makes part of this point moot, because Phoenix is very good, yet some of these scenes just felt laughable with how mean-spirited everyone is. How pitiful, how unlucky Arthur's life is that it almost doesn't seem like his fault. Perhaps that's more ammo to the pro-incel argument, where this film claims that it's society that manifests these future murderers, rather than placing blame on the individuals themselves.
Finally... I was kind of opposed to this film's mere existence. I always enjoyed Joker as, and basically every critic in existence has pointed this out, an idea. He's chaos. He's disorder and insanity in "human" form. He shouldn't be treated as a person, but a threat to peace. This humanization of Joker almost destroys the embodiment of his iconic character and devolves it to "some lonely loser who goes crazy because everyone's a big meanie to him. :' [ " I felt his little spiel while on the talk show was also incredibly dumb. Everyone claims it inspiring and shocking, but to me it felt like a fifth grader wrote it. So easy it is to just say, "Gosh why can't the giant elites just think of other people!" That's not exactly revolutionary.
I'll give it credit for sucking me in and keeping me there. It's ultimate point, because the entire film alluded to having some sort of point, ends up making it a befuddled merriment of whatever-who-cares? I think that might be what brings people to consider it dangerous. There is no clear message for good, and it occasionally paints evils as justified and inspiring. Perhaps everyone should go into it with the mindset that Joker is evil and shouldn't be cherished. Perhaps the film could've done a better job of saying that.