This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

2019 Film Week #1
Friday, October 18th, 7:30 pm, AMC River East 21

"I was thinking of a joke..."

I've had two weeks worth of thoughts brewing since I saw it for the first time at the Music Box Theatre, so it was good to finally revisit it. Richly shot and ever so ambiguous, Joker is almost certainly going to be one of those movies that I come out of each showing of with new opinions of what it's about.

The first time I watched it, I was fascinated with the framing of the entire movie as a story that Arthur Fleck has crafted for himself (or possibly for others?), as well as a few other tantalizing ideas left open by the film (is Arthur a Wayne? is he even the Joker?)The final scene in Arkham, combined with the scattered allusions to the fact that the story we're seeing may not have been the one that "actually" happened opens up infinite possibilities for how much of this was fantasy and how much wasn't. But ultimately, this is Arthur's story through Arthur's eyes. His struggles, his dreams, his anger, his madness. His joke.

This time around, the thing that struck me the most was his loneliness. Every one of Arthur's imagined scenarios feature him having a connection with someone, whether that is a studio audience or his neighbor from down the hall or a group of rioters. It is certainly no justification for his actions, but still definitely something worth thinking about. Looking past the mental health issues, unfortunate circumstances, and general toxicity definitely draws away from the movie's primary strength as such an ambiguous piece of art. However, under all that is still just a sad and lonely person and I think that's worth remembering. It is pretty heartbreaking to see Arthur's efforts to, in his own words, bring happiness and laughter to the world shattered, whether that is through things outside of his control or his own unsustainable, imaginary sources of mental support. I will admit that I often spend far too much time in my own head thinking about how I wish things were with other people. It's not healthy and it's not particularly useful in any real way, but it still ends up bringing its own kind of comfort. And seeing that on the big screen, even from a clown like this, draws a pang of sympathy from my heart.

An expressive and layered film worth thinking about for days/

Celluloid Cabbage liked these reviews